Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 2

Johannes Brahms composed three types of music for piano:

1. Two huge, amazing piano concertos; these are like symphonies for piano and orchestra. Both are real masterpieces, in my view.

2. Sonatas for piano solo.

3. Shorter, delightful, introspective, and descriptive piano pieces (such as Intermezzos), many of which he wrote for his own enjoyment and playing.

This CD is Volume 2 in the series devoted to the works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms, with the pianist Barry Douglas. Since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, Douglas has established a major international career, and his reputation as a pianist and conductor continues to grow.

On this CD, we get to hear the following:


Rhapsody in E flat major, Op. 119 No. 4
Intermezzo in B flat minor, Op. 117 No. 2
Intermezzo in A minor, Op. 116 No. 2
Intermezzo in E major, Op. 116 No. 6
Ballade in G minor, Op. 118, No. 3
Ballade, Op. 10 No. 2
Ballade, Op. 10 No. 3
Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5

Performed by Barry Douglas (piano)

Brahms wrote his set of four Ballades, Op. 10 at the age of twenty-one, and at a time of much personal upheaval. His friend and patron Robert Schumann had attempted suicide and been confined to a sanatorium, and Brahms had been thrust into the role of protector and comforter of Schumann’s wife, Clara, while coming to terms with his own strong feelings for her. The music communicates this difficult situation, and these Ballades display a deep-felt blend of dramatic and the lyrical emotions.

A few months before he composed the Ballades, Brahms completed a new piano sonata with which he had been struggling for a while. Published as his Sonata No. 3, it would remain his single largest keyboard composition.

Brahms’s collections of shorter piano pieces, issued as Op. 116 – 19, were among his final compositions for piano, and most are reflective, and deeply introspective in character. This was music that Brahms wrote to play for himself, or at the most for the enjoyment of a few close friends.

Here is Barry Douglas with the wonderful Brahms Fantasie op.116 No.4


And here is Mr. Douglas in the Schubert Sonata D.960



Tags: Barry Douglas, pianist, Brahms

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