Kenny Rogers compilations tend to drift in and out of print, yet in a sense it doesn't matter much, because most featured most of the big hits. However, very few contained them all and, as of 2004, the only collection in print that contained all his big hits, from the First Edition through the mid-'80s, was 1999's four-disc box set Through the Years, which was too exhaustive for all but dedicated Rogers fans. So, there was a need for a new, relatively concise collection that featured all the hits; hence Capitol's 42 Ultimate Hits, a double-disc set that spans Kenny's entire career, from the First Edition to two new tracks, including a duet with Whitney Duncan.
It's rare to find artists returning with the same personnel time after time. For reasons sometimes artistic—a diversity of stylistic concerns, the desire to work with a variety of players—and sometimes business-driven—concern that using the same people, album after album, will engender complacency, the challenge of retaining a consistent lineup—many artists' body of work is characterized by a constant flux in direction and personnel. While such variation may over time ultimately reveal a deeper musical philosophy in the hands of artists with vision—certainly Pat Metheny, Dave Douglas, and Louis Sclavis fit that description—those less focused run the risk of appearing eclectic with no apparent purpose.
This is Volume 4 in Barry Douglas’s monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano by Johannes Brahms. Each volume has been released to critical acclaim, the first one, in 2012, being seen by BBC Music as ‘a triumph of Brahmsian thought, with playing that gets right to the heart of the composer’. Once again, the album is presented as a stand-alone recital, prominently featuring the C major Sonata, which was Brahms’s first published work. The influence on Brahms of his early romantic predecessors Beethoven and Schubert is obvious here, not only in the virtuoso demands on the performer but also in the opening, which recalls both Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata, Op. 106 and Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy.
This album is the penultimate in what BBC Music has described as a ‘triumph of Brahmsian thought’, namely the survey by Barry Douglas of the composer’s complete works for solo piano. Three years after the release of Volume 1, the winner of the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition is now performing this repertoire in the finest international venues, such as the Wigmore Hall in July 2015 and Concertgebouw in 2016, when the series will come to a highly anticipated climax with the final volume. Taking a big step further in his career with this achievement, Barry Douglas is gaining a reputation of one of the few accomplished world-class piano virtuosi of the romantic repertoire.
Barry Douglas returns for the highly anticipated third volume in his series devoted to Brahms’s solo piano music, the first two volumes having been met with widespread critical acclaim. Of Vol. 2, International Record Review wrote, ‘this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority… this cycle looks set to become a benchmark. The selected Intermezzi performed here come from the collections of short piano pieces which Brahms published in 1892 – 93, his last works for piano. A sense of wistful, melancholic reflection pervades these exquisitely crafted masterpieces of Brahms’s late maturity.