Brahms: Ballades (4), Op. 10

This page lists all recordings of Ballades (4), Op. 10, by Johannes Brahms (1833-97) on CD, SACD, DVD & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4

Brahms: Works for Solo Piano Volume 4


Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Rhapsodies (2), Op. 79

Klavierstücke (4), Op. 119

Variations on a theme by Paganini in A minor, Op. 35: Books 1 & 2


The theme of Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin has tempted a number of composers to elaborate on it – from Liszt to Lutosławski and Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 1863, Johannes Brahms was one of the first to take on the challenge, with his virtuosic Paganini Variations. Playing the set has famously been described as requiring ‘fingers of steel, a heart of burning lava and the courage of a lion’ and possibly the demands that they place on the performer is the main reason why Brahms organized his 28 variations into two books of 14 each. For the fourth instalment in his series of Brahms’s piano music, Jonathan Plowright has chosen to place the two books at either end of the programme.

Between them we are presented with works spanning almost 40 years of Brahms’s life. Of the four Ballades from 1854, it is only for the first, the so-called ‘Edward’ Ballade, that a model in literature is known – a Scottish ballad about the murder of a father. The set has nevertheless been compared to the slow movements in Brahms’s three piano sonatas, composed around the same time, and all with literary references.

25 years later, Brahms had entered a phase where his works for piano were growing ever shorter and more concise, but with his Op. 79 Rhapsodies he made something of a return to the grandeur and passion of his early piano writing. This development was short-lived, however, and the following works for solo piano, of which the four piano pieces of Op. 119 from 1893 would be the last, have been compared to ‘the golden lustre of parks in autumn and the austere black and white of winter walks’. Previous discs in Jonathan Plowright’s survey have received critical acclaim worldwide, and the series has already been dubbed ‘the benchmark Brahms survey for some time to come’ in Gramophone.

“As we reach Volume 4 of this complete solo Brahms traversal, there’s no doubt that Jonathan Plowright and old Johannes are on the best of terms...Even Brahms’s most strenuous technical demands [in the Paganini Variations] hold no fears...But more telling still is the sense of playfulness that Plowright brings not only to the theme itself but to myriad variations.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2017

“Jonathan Plowright is among the very finest of present-day British pianists…The late and elusive Op 119 pieces find Plowright at his best, with an outstanding singing tone and wonderfully long, sustained lines.” Pianist Magazine, April 2017 *****

“… the warmth of Brahms' affection for his friends shines through in Plowright's playing - still keeping a respectful distance from overdone histrionics, but letting the notes speak for themselves - at times in all their strangeness - in the best possible way.” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“Plowright’s Brahms could easily be described as rugged: thunderclouds often loom and there are few moments of brighter outlook along the way…dark Brahms, then, but Plowright’s powerful, uncompromising vision has plenty of attitude and unfailing conviction, helping to make this a rewarding listen” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - April 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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BIS Brahms: Works for Solo Piano - BIS2137

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Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies

Brahms: Ballades and Fantasies


Brahms:

Theme and Variations in D minor (arr. from String Sextet, Op. 18)

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Fantasies (7 piano pieces), Op. 116


Bold, turbulent defiance sit 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 placid, 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.

Kozuhukin's first recording with PENTATONE of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky's Piano concertos was widely praised. Radio Bremen hailed him as "...already one of the greats of the black and white keys". Gramophone magazine named the release 'Editor's Choice' for May 2016, noting "Above all, [Kozhukhin] is natural ... His inerrant rhythmic sense is pliant yet taut; his sound unalloyed silver. Listening to Kozhukhin, you're left with one thing: the music - incontestable, complete." And The Herald Scotland was unequivocal. "If you want to add these old warhorses to your music library, however, there are few better places to start than here... [PENTATONE] uses the slogan 'Sit back and enjoy', and that is the way to appreciate a recording that could hardly be better for its balanced capturing of the performances."

“The Ballades confirm his mastery of sonority, balance and deportment. Kozhukhin takes care to articulate each note, where the majority of pianists phrase by the bar...this is worth pursuing.” Diapason, April 2017 *****

“Pentatone has given Denis Kozhukhin a beautifully warm acoustic for this Brahms recording, setting his performances in the best possible light…[he] is alive to the Baroque feel [of the Theme and Variations], which emanates from the archaic-sounding D minor theme, with its turn to the major, is particularly beautifully rendered…I’m very taken with what Kozhukhin has to say in this music” Gramophone Magazine, May 2017

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Pentatone - PTC5186568

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Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 & Ballades Op. 10

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 & Ballades Op. 10


Brahms:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Harding

Ballades (4), Op. 10


Paul Lewis (piano)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Innovative for its time, Brahms’s Piano Concerto no.1, premiered in Hanover in 1859, took some time to become established in the repertoire. It is a work that redefined the norms of the genre: the traditional confrontation between virtuoso soloist and orchestra is bypassed in favour of a balanced treatment and a more ‘symphonic’ approach. The 'Ballades' too derive from the impetus towards a renewal of forms, characteristic of the young Brahms’s output.

“His account has clarity, muscle and steely pride, but also intimacy, vulnerability and volatility: the combination is magnetic. Conductor Daniel Harding goes for full-out symphonic bulk from the start and his Swedish orchestra sounds hearty and brooding – fuzzier-edged than Lewis’s metallic attack, but generally the partnership works.” The Guardian, 7th April 2016 ****

“His playing in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 disdains romantic heroics in favour of poise and proportion, fine judgment and the purest of trills. The risk is that he sounds aloof from the mighty battles being waged in the orchestral part, performed with romantic sweep and a lot of darkly portentous bass lines by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Harding.” Financial Times, 8th April 2016

“Lewis’s richly evocative account of the early Ballades shows that, at 21, Brahms was already himself. So he was (despite its protracted birth pangs) in the marvellous concerto. Lewis is equal to its challenges ... the captivating F major passage, after the fugato, is a delight, and the Swedish woodwind play expressively for Harding.” Sunday Times, 10th April 2016

“Lewis shows himself thoroughly prepared for the power, the emotional turmoil and the radical vision that Brahms unleashed in his First Concerto … Lewis too enjoys a productive partnership with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted with passion and intensity by Daniel Harding.” The Telegraph, 16th April 2016

“[a] wonderful combination of the statuesque and finesse, [the] recording encompasses it beautifully.” CD Review, 16th April 2016

“The sound is big, wholesome, thrilling, even appropriately terrifying...Lewis’ approach is always integral, powerful yet unpretentious. He evokes every nuance of expression contained in this all-embracing concerto...Brahms’ four Ballads, Op. 10, form a beautiful counterbalance, Lewis evoking their essential sensuousness and beauty.” The Scotsman, 18th April 2016

“Harding has opted for an intensely dramatic reading of this piece, with plenty of Sturm und Drang on offer...the way Lewis gently but assertively glides in, almost as if he has actually been playing all along but it's only now that he has decided to make us aware of his presence, is a great moment, and sets the tone for his entire performance...As in the concerto, the range of colours that Lewis offers us in the Four Ballades is quite something.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 15th April 2016

“The Swedish Radio Symphony, under Daniel Harding’s expert baton, distinguish themselves. The wind band, plangent and exquisitely blended, floats effortlessly above a string choir of almost embarrassing luxuriousness…Lewis is pervasively lyrical in the concerto [and] the beauty of his sound is evident throughout…for a Brahms D minor Concerto of manifold beauties this account could scarcely be bettered” Gramophone Magazine, May 2016

“[Lewis and Harding] encapsulate the contrasting moods of defiance and lyricism without indulging in unwarranted touches of rubato or having to negotiate awkward gear changes…Lewis brings all the requisite power to the ‘sturm and drang’ octaves and trills, but maintains flow and a wonderful feeling for inner voicing in the chorale theme…memorable” BBC Music Magazine, June 2016 *****

“Harding doesn’t hesitate, unequivocally conducting a majestically broad, imperiously thrusting but malleable exposition, its end quietly tapered for Paul Lewis’s poetic entrance...Here is mutually crafted musicianship … [with] Lewis’s insightful interpretations of the multi-faceted beauties that are the Ballads closing the disc.” Classical Ear, 4th May 2016

“This pianist’s light fluent touch is a delight, as is the orchestra’s often fleet playing … Paul Lewis’ innate musicianship always shines through in this beautifully thought out performance, impressive in its restrained power … This is a formidable Brahms disc from Lewis.” The Classical Reviewer, 8th May 2016

“It’s thrillingly played, excitingly conducted and full of both power and beauty, making it the best Brahms 1 we’ve had since Zimmerman and Rattle in Berlin (review), as well as Lewis’ best disc for a while, too.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

15th April 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902191

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Kempff plays Brahms – Volume I

Kempff plays Brahms – Volume I


Brahms:

Rhapsodies (2), Op. 79

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Klavierstücke (8), Op. 76

Fantasies (7 piano pieces), Op. 116

Intermezzi (3), Op. 117

Klavierstücke (6), Op. 118

Klavierstücke (4), Op. 119


The two volumes of Kempff plays Brahms focuses on his 1950s recordings from both, the Decca and Deutsche Grammophon catalogues. Volume I features shorter pieces – the miniature Brahms, so to speak. Volume II features his only recording of the First Piano Concerto, and goes on to include the 1957 Deutsche Grammophon recordings of the Third Sonata, the Op. 4 Scherzo and the Handel Variations, as well as two curiosities – the two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 from 1950 and the Op. 117 Intermezzi from 1953, both recorded for Decca, and both receiving their first release on CD. Correspondingly, the 1953 recording of the Rhapsodies and the 1950 recording of the Intemezzi appear on Volume I.

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4806639

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.00

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Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms: Emil Gilels

Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms: Emil Gilels

Live Recording August 9, 1976, Großes Festspielhaus


Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 'March Funebre'

Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31 No. 1

Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Schumann:

Toccata in C major, Op. 7

Arabeske in C major, Op. 18


Emil Gilels (piano)

The Soviet pianist Emil Gilels began his international career at a relatively late date and impressed, in particular, with the carefully considered sense of unity and interconnectedness of his concert programmes. This was certainly the case in Gilels’ penultimate concert at the Salzburg Festival, in the summer of 1976. Beethoven’s middle-period sonatas can rarely have been heard in such a rounded, masterful interpretation, devoid of any superficial effects as is here. After the interval he moved on to Schumann and Brahms in far more than a mere musico-historical progression, as you would expect.

Orfeo - Orfeo d'Or - Salzburger Festspieldokumente - C883132B

(CD - 2 discs)

$13.75

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Chopin & Brahms: Ballades

Chopin & Brahms: Ballades


Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Chopin:

Ballades Nos. 1-4


“State-of-the-art Chopin from Tiberghien: lucid, beautifully poetic and excelling in the art of conveying heroic aspiration without bombast. His way with the mellow dreaminess of Brahms's Ballades impresses also.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2013 *****

Harmonia Mundi - HMGold - HMG501943

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Richard Farrell - The Complete Recordings, Volume 1

Richard Farrell - The Complete Recordings, Volume 1


Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Waltzes (16), Op. 39

Grieg:

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16

Ballade in G minor, Op. 24

19 Norwegian Folksongs, Op. 66 (selections)

Nos 14 & 17

9 Lyric Pieces

Liszt:

Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S124


Richard Farrell (piano)

The Halle Orchestra, George Weldon

Fifty years ago on a country road near Arundel, Sussex, a car unaccountably left the road and hit a tree, killing all three of the vehicle's occupants. One of the passengers in the car was Richard Farrell. Richard was just starting an amazing career as a concert pianist. In 1956 he made what was to be his last tour of New Zealand. By this time he was tackling some of the mountain-peaks of the pianistic repertoire in his programmes - things like the Brahms F Minor Sonata and the "Handel" Variations, Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit", Chopin's Op.10 Etudes, and some Liszt transcriptions and paraphrases. As well, with the New Zealand National Orchestra, whose work with conductor James Robertson he praised, he played the "Emperor", and the Ravel Left-Hand Concerto. That same year Farrell had commenced what seemed a highly promising recording career in England with Pye Records, beginning with a coupling of the Grieg and Liszt E-flat concertos in which he was partnered by the Halle Orchestra under George Weldon. These two concertos are on this recording.

“I enjoyed his playing very much, for he has what is today the rare virtue of being able to play slowly. Though he often tosses off quick passages at conventional speeds (and he has plenty of technique), he always plays slow movements and slow sections of movements considerably slower than almost every other pianist listed above. And yet he is neither sentimental nor dull ; his playing, on the contrary, is movingly contemplative and poetic.” Gramophone Magazine, July 1957 (on the Grieg Piano Concerto)

“This music is wonderfully inventive, and Farrell brings out all the poetry and melancholy and humourin a performance that could hardly be bettered.” Gramophone Magazine, April 1959 (on Grieg’s Ballade)

Presto Disc of the Week

21st December 2009

Atoll - ACD208

(CD - 2 discs)

$20.25

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Brahms: Ballades (4), Op. 10, etc.

Beethoven:

Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat major, Op. 7

Brahms:

Ballades (4), Op. 10

Schubert:

Piano Sonata No. 4 in A Minor, D537


DG Originals - E4577622

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Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 & Ballades

Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1 & Ballades


Brahms:

Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25

Amadeus Quartet

Ballades (4), Op. 10


“This is an outstanding performance of Brahms's G minor Piano Quartet, unforgettable for its spontaneity and uninhibited Romantic warmth and verve. The booklet reminds us that this 1971 recording made history since 'a contract between an artist from the Soviet Union and a Western label was a sensational event in cultural diplomacy'.
Reproduced with respect for the sound quality of its time, the playing has a glowing strength and intensity throughout. Only in the first movement's opulent textures does the keyboard occasionally dominate. From Emil Gilels we're also given a maturely unhurried, essentially 'inward' recording of Brahms's youthful Ballades.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

Building a Library

First Choice - June 2001

DG Originals - 4474072

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Brahms: Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5, etc.

Brahms:

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5

Ballades (4), Op. 10


Idil Biret (piano)

“Biret's bold, meaty technique fits the music well.” Classic CD

Building a Library

Budget Choice - March 2003

Naxos - 8550352

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$7.00

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