Notes and Editorial Reviews
Four years after his last album, outstanding pianist Arcadi Volodos explores Brahms’s late works for the piano. In terms of their personally coloured intimacy and compactness the three collections of piano pieces op. 76, op. 117 and op. 118 are in Volodos’s view among the greatest works ever written. An unequivocal conclusion: “These are manifestly masterpieces,” finds Arcadi Volodos. For him Brahms’s late piano pieces are among the greatest works in the history of music. “By this stage of his career Brahms had already demonstrated his complete mastery of every large-scale form: he had written symphonies, concertos and sonatas.
But now he turned to a miniature format and poured all of his experience into it. His style was now uncommonly compact and at the same time supremely personal. I find that very moving.” Brahms had published no piano music for a number of years when he returned to the medium in 1878 and composed a set of miniature character-pieces. For Arcadi Volodos this op. 76 collection represents “an introduction, a foretaste of the late, even more intimate works”. By this date Brahms was in his mid-fifties and had spent many years studying the works of a much older generation of composers, his interest motivated by a mixture of veneration and delight in experimentation. It was on this basis that he began to refine his own musical language. The filigree textures of these character-pieces and – to quote Volodos – the “inexpressible depths” that Brahms explored in his final works turn these compositions into arguably the most personal that the composer bequeathed to posterity. As such, they are wholly innocent of any outside influence. Arcadi Volodos’s principal concern when recording these late works by Brahms was to reproduce the music’s many subtly nuanced colours. “For this intimate music in particular a wide range of colours and nuances is a basic precondition.” The present recording was made in the Teldex Studios in Berlin between June 2015 and January 2017. Read less
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