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Brahms: Late Piano Works, Op 116-119 / Markus Groh

Release Date: 08/26/2008 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2136   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Markus Groh
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Groh shows supreme control of the instrument as well as sensitivity regarding timbre and texture.

I once interviewed a pianist who explained his tendency towards slow tempi as having to do with the definition in his playing, when he couldn’t bear to let go of the end of a phrase. This thought crosses my mind while listening to Markus Groh in Brahms’s late piano pieces.

Groh’s supreme control of the instrument and sensitivity regarding timbre and texture enable him convincingly to stretch the Op 117 No 1 Intermezzo’s middle section to its arguable breaking-point. The same goes for his full-throated, polyphonically aware conceptions of the A major and G minor Capriccios from Op 116. The Intermezzi, Op 118
Read more No 6 and Op 119 No 1, elicit brooding, weighty interpretations that still manage to convey shape and sustaining power. Notable too are Groh’s slightly agitated take on Op 117 No 3’s con moto directive, with more varied legato articulation than one commonly hears. The pianist’s ample tone and deft delineation of the Op 116 No 7 Capriccio’s gnarly textures are all the more impressive once you realise how discreetly he employs the sustain pedal. To be certain, some selections meet with less success: for example, the little C major Intermezzo, Op 119 No 3 (made famous by Myra Hess), is voiced to perfection yet never takes wing; nor does the cycle’s closing Rhapsody break out from Groh’s four-square shell.

Still, for a single-disc release that includes all four “late” Brahms piano works, Groh more than holds his own alongside Elisabeth Leonskaja’s seasoned performances (MDG). The dryish room ambience characterising Avie’s engineering via conventional two-channel and headphone playback appreciably opens up when experienced in surround-sound.

-- Jed Distler, Gramophone [9/2008]

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
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Works on This Recording

Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Markus Groh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Intermezzi (3) for Piano, Op. 117 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Markus Groh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Pieces (6) for Piano, Op. 118 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Markus Groh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Pieces (4) for Piano, Op. 119 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Markus Groh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 

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