MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download from

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Works for Solo Piano - Volume One
Rhapsody, Op 79, No 1 [9:33]
Intermezzo, Op. 116, No 4 [4:18]
Intermezzo, Op. 118, No 2 [6:07]
Capriccio, Op. 116, No 1 [2:22]
Intermezzo, Op. 117, No 1 [5:09]
Rhapsody, Op 79, No 2 [6:25]
Romance, Op. 118, No 5 [3:36]
Capriccio, Op. 116, No 7 [[2:21]
Ballade, Op. 10, No 4 [7:15]
Capriccio, Op. 116, No 3 [3:25]
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 (1861) [26:54]
Barry Douglas (piano)
rec. 10-11 November 2011, West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10716 [77:38]

Experience Classicsonline

I believe that Barry Douglas has recently become an exclusively-contracted Chandos artist. The first fruit of the new relationship is this Brahms disc, which I’m delighted to see is described as Volume One in a projected series. If Douglas plans to record all the Brahms solo piano music and subsequent releases match the standard of this disc then it will be a notable addition to the Brahms discography.
The one regret I have over this disc is that Douglas has dipped in to several of Brahms’s collections of pieces. Thus we get only four of the seven pieces in Op. 116, two of the six pieces that form Op. 118 and just one of the three Intermezzos that make up Op. 117. Also, just one of the four Ballades, Op 10 is included here. I’m sure that the reason for this programming is that Mr Douglas wanted to present a varied selection of pieces and that in itself is welcome but it will mean that, once his series is complete, anyone wanting to hear, say, Op. 118 complete will have to play more than one CD. That’s a pity but, in fairness, it’s the only point of criticism that I could level at this disc.
The performances on this disc indicate that Barry Douglas is a Brahms interpreter of some stature. His readings of the Rhapsodies Op. 79 are very fine. In the first he projects powerfully the often-turbulent agitato music but when the music relaxes Douglas is just as convincing – the B major episode marked molto dolce espressivo (3:54) is beautifully done; here, as elsewhere in the recital, his use of subtle, very natural rubato is most impressive. The second Rhapsody is a passionate piece and, in a tremendous performance, the triplet-dominated second subject is delivered imaginatively and excitingly.
I loved the reading of Op 117 No 1. This bewitching lullaby is played with the utmost sensitivity. Just as pleasing is the performance of Op. 118 No 2. This is, perhaps, my favourite among Brahms’s piano pieces. The marking is Andante teneramente and in an immaculate performance Douglas really does bring out the ‘tenderly’ aspect of that marking. His playing is thoughtful and caring. He’s also excellent in the varying moods of the selection from Op. 116. In Op. 116 No 1, where Brahms makes imaginative use of rhythmic irregularities, Douglas offers playing that is surging and strongly energetic. Yet in Op. 116 No 4 – which, oddly, is the only piece not specifically mentioned in Calum MacDonald’s very good note – Douglas is fully alive to the searching, rarefied quality of the music.
The climax of the recital is the magnificent Handel Variations. Most of the twenty-five variations are quite brief and sometimes the variations are, in essence, paired in that the style or mood of one variation is carried over into its successor – for example numbers 7 and 8 and numbers 11 and 12. As well as the manifold technical challenges that Brahms sets for the pianist there is an additional challenge in that often the soloist is required quickly to change course, as it were, between one variation and a succeeding one in a different style. I think Barry Douglas’s reading of this work is very fine indeed and he’s adept at responding to the quick mood changes. Thus, for example, his playing has the necessary delicacy in Variation I and a few minutes later he brings out the grandeur of Variation IX. As in the shorter pieces, he shows an instinctive feel for rubato, so important in Brahms’s lyrical passages. Only once did I raise an eyebrow very slightly. Variation XIX is marked Leggiero e vivace and I didn’t really get that from Douglas’s playing; the music seemed just a bit slow and insufficiently light. When I compared Garrick Ohlsson’s very fine account of the work (review) at this point I was a little surprised to find that Ohlsson’s tempo is almost identical but where he scores over Barry Douglas, I think, is by imparting more vitality into the rhythm. However, this is a pretty minor point in the context of Douglas’s very convincing traversal of the variations. Come the fugue (from 21:37), Douglas starts the passage fairly modestly, as Brahms intends, and then as the complexity of the argument increases he builds the music – and the excitement – in a masterly fashion. In the Handel Variations Brahms takes us on a long and eventful musical journey and throughout that journey Barry Douglas is a reliable and perceptive guide.
These performances are played on a Steinway piano. The Chandos engineers have recorded the instrument very well. The notes by Calum MacDonald are very helpful.
The pianist contributes a short personal note in the booklet and he concludes it by saying of Brahms’s piano music “I treasure every phrase. I love every note.” That’s just how it comes across in these splendid performances. The prospect of exploring Brahms’s solo piano music with Barry Douglas is an exciting one and I look forward greatly to further instalments.
John Quinn







Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Error processing SSI file