x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Murray Perahia's Brahms has the power to win over listeners

Murray Perahia¿s Brahms has the power to win over those who claim not to like the composer's works.

Murray Perahia/Brahms: Handel Variations op. 24, Two Rhapsodies op. 79, Piano Pieces op. 118 and 119
(Sony Classical)
****

There are those who avoid Brahms, finding his high-romantic works simply too sentimental, too overwrought and heavy and rumbly. This is an album that could change their minds because when played with the classical clarity of the American pianist and conductor Murray Perahia, the intellect behind Brahms' harmonic diversions and structural innovations is explored without recourse to virtuosic fireworks. That's not to say Perahia is not virtuosic: indeed, there is never a finger or a note out of place, and perhaps for fans of the more wildly romantic late works, his playing could prove a little cool to the touch. The decision to begin with the beautiful Handel Variations is an apt one for a musician whose recent releases have concentrated on the Bach canon, with forays into Beethoven and Schubert, and Perahia's intelligent performance of the work is the holistic approach of a conductor as much as the emotive approach of a pianist. Yet as the album progresses to the Piano Pieces, op. 118 and 119, the flexibility and versatility of his technique allow the works' ever-changing permutations of light lyricism and dark fervour to be explored with a compelling authenticity.

 

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