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Brahms: Piano Works Opp. 76, 116, 117 / Peter Longworth

Brahms / Longworth,Peter
Release Date: 05/28/2013 
Label:  Azica   Catalog #: 71279   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Peter Longworth
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAHMS Eight Piano Pieces, op. 76. Seven Fantasies, op. 116. Three Intermezzos, op. 117 Peter Longworth (pn) AZICA 71279 (75:57)

In Fanfare 34:5, I had mostly good things to say about a new recording of Brahms’s three violin sonatas performed by Mark Fewer and Peter Longworth. The one reservation I had Read more related to Fewer’s somewhat inexpressive phrasing. Longworth, on the other hand, earned my respect for playing the notes the way Brahms wrote them.

On this outing, Longworth goes it alone in a recital of three of Brahms’s sets of pieces for solo piano, and I’m nearly at a loss for words to tell you how wonderfully he plays them. It’s not just that everything he does sounds right, everything he does feels right. Take, for example, the second number in the op. 76 set, the Capriccio in B Minor. Vacillating between something resembling a tipsy Grieg gnome and a Schubert Viennese dance gone bad, Longworth hears in the piece and captures to perfection its choleric temperament couched in the snide humor of its quirky dissonances and cross relations.

Then, in the fourth number from the op. 116 set, the Intermezzo in E Major, Longworth teases a tone of such sadness from his piano that the poignancy of it is palpable. The music is almost motionless; seemingly freed from the worldly cares of melody and rhythm, it coalesces in the ether from mere wisps of fragmentary harmonies.

Always an audience favorite among these pieces is the first number of the op. 117 set, the Intermezzo in E? Major. All three of the pieces that make up this opus number seem to explore aspects of an intense longing and loneliness of the soul that’s too personal, too private, and too painful for anything other than music to express. But the first of them manages to smile through the tears, which makes it all the more tender and heartbreaking. I simply can’t find the words to describe how beautifully Longworth plays this piece; his halting, almost disembodied way of parsing the music’s phrases is a haunting experience.

When it comes to Brahms’s solo piano pieces, in Peter Longworth I think I’ve finally found my Beshert (preordained soul mate). This is on my current Want List, no question about it.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (8) for Piano, Op. 76 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Peter Longworth (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
Intermezzi (3) for Piano, Op. 117 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Peter Longworth (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 
Fantasies (7) for Piano, Op. 116 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Peter Longworth (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Austria 

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