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.
Doug Sahm once sang, "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul," and, as a proud son of the Lone Star state, he seemed bent on proving that every time he stepped in front of a microphone. Whether he was playing roots rock, garage punk, blues, country, norteño, or (as was often the case) something that mixed up several of the above-mentioned ingredients, Doug Sahm always sounded like Doug Sahm – a little wild, a little loose, but always good company, and a guy with a whole lot of soul who knew a lot of musicians upon whom the same praise could be bestowed. Pulling together a single disc compilation that would make sense of the length and breadth of the artist's recording career (which spanned five decades) would be just about impossible (the licensing hassles involved with the many labels involved would probably scotch such a project anyway), but this disc, which boasts 22 songs recorded over the course of eight years, is a pretty good starter for anyone wanting to get to know Sahm's music.