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Gould is here playing a selection of Brahms’s solo piano music, the four “Ballades”, Op. 10, the two “Rhapsodies”, Op. 79, and various pieces titled “Intermezzo”. The term “ballade” suggests that Brahms’s inspiration was folksong and narrative poetry, and the first ballade in D minor was indeed inspired by the Scottish poem "Edward". (It is sometimes referred to as the “Edward Ballade”). The terms “Rhapsody” and “Intermezzo”, however, do not appear to have had any specific meaning for the composer; he originally intended to call the Op. 79 pieces simply "Klavierstücke", renaming them at the suggestion of a friend, and “Intermezzo” was a term he often used for this shorter piano pieces.

As the opus numbers might suggest, these works span Brahms's career. The “Ballades” were youthful works, dated 1854 and written while he was still in his early twenties, the “Rhapsodies” were written in 1879 during the middle part of his career, and the Op. 117 and 118 Intermezzi are among the last works he wrote before his death. Despite this span of some four decades, however, there are fewer stylistic differences between the earlier and later works than one might expect; all are among the finest examples of Romantic piano music, marked by a warmth, lyricism and tenderness fully brought out in Gould’s interpretation. Although Gould had a reputation as one of the great eccentrics of classical music, there can be no denying that he was a supremely gifted musician.

Brand New /sealed 2CD Sony Classical
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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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