Brahms: Ballades & Fantasies
Label: PENTATONE CLASSICS
Format: SACD / CD Hybrid
KOZHUKHIN, DENIS, DENIS KOZHUKHIN
Bold, turbulent defiance sits alongside pained introspection and bittersweet reverie in this penetrating recital of Brahms piano works by the acclaimed young Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin in his eagerly awaited second recording for Pentatone. By turns place, sparse, restive and impassioned, the highly personal and contemplative late piano pieces of Brahms have been described as "the mirrors of his soul". The seven pieces comprising the Fantasias, Op. 116 are quite different in mood but are nevertheless intricately constructed to produce poetic miniatures of great depth and sonority, requiring sensitive artistry to convey their sense of unity and poignancy. Brahms is in a more full-bloodied and demonstrative mood with the four character pieces in the much earlier Ballades, Op. 10. But these too show moments of transcendent beauty as in the closing ballade where the tenor melody is woven into the mellifluously undulating pianissimo accompaniment. And in the rarely heard Theme and Variations, Op. 18b, Brahms makes a sumptuous and instantly seductive arrangement of the second movement of his own String Sextet, producing an arresting and magisterial work with exquisite tone colorations and a hushed, sublime ending. "Technically flawless and musically imperios" wrote Classical Source of Denis Kozhukhin, "his detail and articulation was immaculate, and his daredevil playing was thrilling...Kozhukhin was a knockout."