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Piano Works: Variations on a Theme of Paganini

4.6 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 7, 2006
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A formidable pianist, Brahms wrote piano music throughout his life, as this record demonstrates. The four Ballads (1854) are youthfully romantic and full of beguiling melodies; inspired by Johann Gottfried Herder's collection of folk-poetry, their contrasting rhythms, textures and dynamics evoke dreamy lyricism, mystery and turbulence. The two Rhapsodies (1879) are among Brahms' most beloved piano pieces: grand in conception and execution, rich in sonority, they are dramatic, dark and stormy, with achingly beautiful, singing middle sections. The Paganini Variations (1862-63) are based on the theme of Paganini's Caprice No. 24 for solo violin; their subtitle, "Studies for Piano," indicates their character and primary function: to explore and expand the possibilities of the instrument, much as  Paganini himself did for the violin. He would have been amazed at how many great composers have been captivated by his simple, catchy little tune. Brahms' 28 Variations contain some of the most fiendishly difficult piano writing in the repertoire. Each of its two sets begins with a statement of the theme, goes on to increasingly dazzling acrobatics, and ends with a coda that explodes into truly breath-taking fireworks. Nicholas Angelis, a multiple prize-winner with a flourishing international career on stage and disc, was born in 1970 and studied in his native America and France. He negotiates this obstacle course brilliantly, fully equal to all its technical, rhythmic and tonal demands, and always has virtuosity in reserve for the next burst of pyrotechnics. In the other pieces, his approach is a bit excessive; he exaggerates the dynamic contrasts and indulges in effusive push-and-pull rubatos that fragment and sentimentalize the music, contravening Brahms' austerity and restraint.  --Edith Eisler

Stream Brahms: Paganini Variations; 2 Rhapsodies, Op.79 & 4 Ballades, Op.10 by Various artists and tens of millions of other songs on all your devices with Amazon Music Unlimited. Exclusive discount for Prime members.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (February 7, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin Classics
  • ASIN: B0009U55ZG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,409 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 15, 2013
Format: Audio CD
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon December 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse


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