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Brahms: Piano Pieces Op. 76; Two Rhapsodies Op. 79; Fantasies Op. 16

Brahms / Boyde
Release Date: 06/29/2010 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 743   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Boyde
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAHMS Piano Pieces, op. 76; 2 Rhapsodies, op. 79; Fantasies, op. 116 Andreas Boyde (pn) OEHMS OC 743 (68:45)

German-born Andreas Boyde, who currently lives in London, was mentored by the noted pianist Malcolm Frager, who has proved to be a major influence on his onetime disciple. Boyde has appeared with orchestras throughout the world, displaying a wide Read more repertoire. He has directed much of his attention to the piano works of Brahms, which was also true of the late Julius Katchen. If the current disc is any indication, Boyde’s approach to Brahms’s solo piano music is greatly welcome. Technique, dynamics, and phrasing are Boyde’s strengths, illustrated by the playing on this disc.

Op. 76 and op. 116 consist of, respectively, eight and seven component capriccios and intermezzos intermixed in about equal number. Each component is a short piece, from about three to five minutes in duration. Each of the op. 79 Two Rhapsodies is about twice as long as the op. 76 and op. 116 pieces, and, of course, more rhapsodic and, in addition, less impressionistic. Indeed, Brahms’s solo piano capriccios and intermezzos, wherever they occur, are impressionistic pieces. They all have strong direction, however, which makes them attractive to me. Much impressionistic writing seems to lack direction, which, for some but not for me, adds to its charm by being directionally cryptic.

The approaches to these pieces by Boyde and Katchen differ drastically. Katchen’s musical lines are not as clear as Boyde’s, resulting in a more impressionistic, dreamier, and less interesting result. This is especially noticeable in op. 76/1, op. 76/4, op. 79/1, and most of op. 116. Boyde holds the trump card in most of these pieces, except for op. 76/8 and op. 116/3, where the performances of Katchen are comparable to those of Boyde. In general, Boyde offers much better phrase shaping than Katchen, resulting in good establishment of direction in all of these pieces. The best showing, however, is by Emanuel Ax in his recording of the op. 79 Two Rhapsodies. Ax’s ability to shape a phrase is almost uncanny and, well, rhapsodic.

Andreas Boyde’s accounting of these Brahms piano pieces is captivating. This is a disc to get, and a signal to hear more Brahms from Boyde.

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (8) for Piano, Op. 76 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Boyde (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Venue:  Funkhaus Köln, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 27 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Rhapsodies (2) for Piano, Op. 79 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Boyde (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Austria 
Venue:  Funkhaus Köln, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 15 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Boyde (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Venue:  Funkhaus Köln, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal 
Length: 24 Minutes 18 Secs. 

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