As complete sets of Brahms piano music go, it's hard to get more complete than this set by Martin Jones on Nimbus. Jones includes not only the canonical two Rhapsodies, three Sonatas, four Ballades, six sets of variations, ten Hungarian Dances, sixteen Waltzes and twenty-eight short piano pieces, but also the almost forgotten sarabandes, gigues, gavottes, studies, canons and transcriptions. Listeners looking for the most complete Brahms available need look no further. Listeners who do look no further, however, will have to settle for good but by no means great performances. Jones has a big tone coupled to an impressive technique and many of his performances are quite fine. But too often here he seems to be merely going through the motions, turning in accomplished but unexciting sometimes even dutiful performances. When extroverted virtuosity is called for in the Paganini Variations, Jones is almost but not altogether on top of the notes.
"…The program she presents here is terrific: the Wesendonk Lieder and Zemlinsky songs are pretty common in recitals, but I know of no other recital disc where the “Song of the Wood Dove” from Schoenberg’s massive Gurrelieder appears, and the Brahms Alto Rhapsody is similarly rarely recorded outside of complete Brahms sets. Pecková, whose voice is a hair light for all the music here (she sings Rosina and Cherubino, and the lighter soprano role of Varvara in Katya Kabanova), does much of the program proud…" ~classicstoday
This is Volume 1 in a new series devoted to the Works for Solo Piano by Johannes Brahms, starting with a selection of highly personal collections of Capriccios, Intermezzi, Ballades, a Romance, and Rhapsodies.
The Odeon Trio go for gold. Unlike either the Beaux Arts (Philips) or the Fontenay (Teldec), they use three CDs to include everything by Brahms that could possibly be called a piano trio, not forgetting the Op. 114 and Op. 40 wind trios, whose wind parts can well be rendered by strings. They decide, too, that the original 1853 version of the B major Trio is for them, rather than the revised version of 1889 which is more generally favoured.
This is an exceptional disc. Exceptional both for the music Johannes Brahms’ three violin sonatas contain some of his most lovely writing and the performance French violinist Augustin Dumay and Portuguese pianist Maria Pires project a strong interpretive vision. The interpretation is more lyrical and thoughtful than typical, with somewhat slow tempi generally. This is married to exquisite – and I mean, exquisite – technique from both Pires and Dumay as well as an outstanding sound engineering job from DG. The excellence of this CD is comprehensive.