Brahms’ Variations


  • Handel Variations

I love the music of Johannes Brahms because of its great diversity and creativity. In his symphonies, I hear tender sounds of Nature; in his Intermezzos, I hear Brahms playing piano for his own pleasure. And in his variations, I love the way Brahms can take a simple tune and then transform it into 45 minutes of inventive music.

On this CD, we get t hear the following:


  • Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24
  • Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5

Performed by Jonathan Plowright (piano)

Jonathan Plowright studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won Gold Medal in 1983. He was also ‘Commonwealth Musician of the Year’ and a Fulbright Scholar, and won first prize in the European Piano Competition.

Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 3 is very large and complex, as well as unconventional in its musical structure. This makes it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert.

Brahms never wrote another piano sonata after completing his No. 3; but instead he concentrated on a series of large-scale sets of variations, among which the Handel Variations must be considered one of his major achievement. Completed in September 1861 the work shows Brahms at the height of his inventive powers. It is a beautiful piece of music, and played excellently on this CD.

Gramophone Magazine wrote in February 2013:

“His warmth and sincerity combine with a superbly assured and powerful technique to create one of the finest performances [of the F minor Sonata] on record…His Handel Variations, too, are subtly and economically inflected, never searching for easy glamour or effect…One could hardly wish for more and I can scarcely wait for further volumes from this pianist, adding that both the piano concertos positively cry out for his attention.”

Here is Jonathan Plowright playing Gottschalk’s ‘The Banjo’



And next, here’s Plowright in playing Jack Fina’s amazing boogie version of ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ by Rimsky Korsakov – watch those flying fingers!



Tags: Jonathan Plowright, Brahms, piano sonata #3, Variations

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