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.
As samplers go, this is one of the best. An excellent cross section of artists from the Stockfish catalog. I am especially taken by the cuts from Alan Taylor ("The Beat Hotel" in particualr) and Chris Jones. Sonics are clean, clear and crisp, with an exceptional sense of timbre. I've purchased a few of the CD's of the artists I've heard on this sampler, and I'm here to tell you, they sound great to - though they can't beat these SACD tracks.
Since the release of Stockfisch's first SACD sampler, the audiophile label has recorded and published many new Stockfisch productions including well known artists of the singer/songwriter scene as well as so called 'insider tips'. Listen to 15 new tracks, 70 minutes on this Hybrid-SACD! Just like Vol. 1, this second Stockfisch collection Closer To The Music Vol. 2 offers on its 15 individual tracks a wide musical variety. These recordings, as any listener will experience, exemplify once again the Stockfisch philosophy: closer to the music!
And again this 4th compilation offers both a selection from current releases and presentations of artists and albums that will be released by Stockfisch Records in the next months. Belonging to these forecasts you can hear two tracks from the new Paul Stephenson album, who already had recorded two CDs for Stockfisch. Furthermore one song by Zebra Sommerwind, the trio around Fiedelmichel-doyen Thomas Kagermann, featuring German (folk-)songs in contemporary arrangements.