- Ballades (4) for piano, Op. 10 - Johannes Brahms - Nicholas Angelich - Alain Lanceron
- Rhapsodies (2) for piano, Op. 79 - Johannes Brahms - Nicholas Angelich - Alain Lanceron
- Variations (28) on a Theme of Paganini, for piano, in A minor, Op. 35 - Johannes Brahms - Nicholas Angelich - Alain Lanceron
Nicholas Angelich has built a name for himself as a Brahms specialist by sneaking in through the back door: On his two previous releases on Virgin Classics, he's been the pianist for chamber works by Brahms, accompanying Renaud Capuçon on the three violin sonatas and joining both Renaud and his cellist brother, Gautier Capuçon, for the piano trios. It's about time that Angelich stepped into the spotlight on his own, and this solo recital is every bit as gratifying as you'd expect after hearing his work on those earlier collaborative albums. Choosing three major compositions from different phases of Brahms's career, Angelich proves a master of the introspective poetry that pervades the early Ballades (1854), a quality integrated with more dramatic, heroic moods in the relatively late Rhapsodies (1879). The latter works, placed in the program's center, give a taste of the muscularity of Angelich's technique, which gets a real workout in the Variations on a Theme by Paganini (1862-63), one of Brahms's most virtuosic piano works. Based on the same tune that decades later would inspire the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff -- another composer prized by Angelich -- these 28 variations show Brahms's most freely imaginative side as they flash past at the speed of thought. Never gratuitously showy, Angelich is always an intelligent, interesting, and technically impressive pianist; his work in chamber music is too rewarding to pass over, but chances are we'll be seeing him center stage much more often in the future.