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Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1; Ballades Op. 10 / Paul Lewis, piano; Swedish Radio SO, Harding

Album Summary

>Brahms, Johannes : Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15
>Brahms, Johannes : Ballades (4) for piano, Op. 10
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Following his highly acclaimed surveys of the piano works of Beethoven and Schubert, British pianist Paul Lewis turns to the romantic period and Brahms's mighty D minor Piano Concerto. Lewis performed the work across Europe in 2014 and in the US for his New York Philharmonic début. In a review of that concert, New York Times critic Anthony Tomassini praised Lewis for his, "majestic and insightful performance," adding, "I have seldom heard the contrasting theme, which sounds like an affirming chorale, played with such elegant shaping of inner voices." For this new recording, Lewis is accompanied by Daniel Harding leading the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The Guardian, 7th April 2016
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.

Financial Times, 8th 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.

Sunday Times, 10th 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.

The Telegraph, 16th 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.

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

The Scotsman, 18th 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.

Gramophone Magazine, May 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.

BBC Music Magazine, June 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.

Classical Ear, 4th May 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.

The Classical Reviewer, 8th 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.

MusicWeb International, June 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.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, Sweden (01/2016); Teldex Studio Berlin (01/2016); Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, Sweden (05/2014); Teldex Studio Berlin (05/2014).


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Works Details

>Brahms, Johannes : Concerto for Piano no 1 in D minor, Op. 15
  • Performer: Paul Lewis (Piano)
  • Conductor: Daniel Harding
  • Ensemble: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 49 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1854-1859

>Brahms, Johannes : Ballades (4) for piano, Op. 10
  • Performer: Paul Lewis (Piano)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1854