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Customer Review

TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 March 2013
Amazon has attached this review to Douglas's Schubert Volume 2, I see now, on 15/2/2017, when it was written about his second Brahms CD in 2013. For the Brahms, see the second paragraph. I'll add the Schubert here, above it:

The Schubert Volume 2 has the same virtues as his Brahms playing - it is quite Romantic and uses the tonal resources of the piano, is quite pedalled, and liberal with rubato. I completely love it, having tended to see Pierre Barbizet as having the right way with Schubert up to now - a far dryer, less pedalled sound - or Richter's incredible energy and perfection. But now Douglas needs to be added as the third way - his playing is completely convincing, and a source of amazement, the way he releases the power of this music as if closer to Schubert than the rest of us. In other words, just what an inperpreter should be!

Barry Douglas' second disc of Brahms' solo oeuvre proves to be every bit as rewarding as the first, and with very much the same virtues: a deeply felt response to all the pieces, whether strongly projected (the E flat Rhapsody opus 119) or more muted, as in some of the intermezzos. He unfailingly lets the music breathe so that great arching phrases become apparent, infinitely subtle in the way they are modulated. You just can't get enough of his big yet finely gradated tone, superbly caught in an acoustic with some air around it - you imagine he must be in a room with a high ceiling, but with no lack of focus. It is really hard to imagine how the sound could be better suited to Brahms in his autumnal, expansive world or his youthful ardour, also not without its expansiveness! The latter also uses the full range of the instrument, with some amazingly pinging top notes on treble octaves and plummy bass sounds. It reminds me, in aural profile, of some of Lydia Mordkovitch's recordings, also on Chandos - her Brahms sonatas with Gerhard Oppitz, in fact, has a similar sense of time opening up. Do not pay attention to the programme order given under the product description - the works are not grouped according to name, but jump around the opus numbers continually. Where it follows on from the first installment is in the placing of a large work at the end, the magnificent 3rd Sonata convincing you that Brahms had felt everything and was really a fully formed creative genius at the time of composing what would be opus 5 - and Douglas is truly Herculean in physical power, but with the tender heart of Ganymede beating in his breast.
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