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BRAHMS, J.: Piano Sonata No. 3 / 25 Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel (Plowright)

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2013

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2013


Jonathan Plowright



Potton Hall, Saxmundham, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom

Record Label




Total Time - 71:23
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BRAHMS, J.: Piano Sonata No. 3 / 25 Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel (Plowright)

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Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5 

1 I. Allegro maestoso 10:37
2 II. Andante espressivo 13:53
3 III. Scherzo: Allegro energico 4:33
4 IV. Intermezzo (Ruckblick): Andante molto 5:13
5 V. Finale: Allegro moderato ma rubato 7:36

25 Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24

6 Aria 0:51
7 Variation 1 0:55
8 Variation 2: Animato 0:54
9 Variation 3 0:49
10 Variation 4: Vivace 0:50
11 Variation 5 1:14
12 Variation 6 1:18
13 Variation 7: Molto vivace 0:34
14 Variation 8 0:34
15 Variation 9: Poco piu sostenuto 1:42
16 Variation 10: Vivace 0:33
17 Variation 11 0:52
18 Variation 12: Piu moto 0:54
19 Variation 13: Un poco largamente 1:46
20 Variation 14: Vivace 0:37
21 Variation 15 0:41
22 Variation 16 0:33
23 Variation 17 0:37
24 Variation 18 0:56
25 Variation 19: Molto vivace e leggiero 1:06
26 Variation 20 1:35
27 Variation 21 0:50
28 Variation 22 0:54
29 Variation 23: Molto vivace 0:35
30 Variation 24 0:35
31 Variation 25 0:44
32 Fugue 6:02
 Jonathan Plowright Soloist

It was in October 1853 that the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms completed his Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, while staying with Robert and Clara Schumann in Düsseldorf. The work had occupied him for some months – at least since the summer of the same year, when he had encountered Franz Liszt, and had heard his recently completed B minor Sonata. Strictly speaking, he may only have heard parts of it: according to some reports, Brahms fell asleep during the performance… It is tempting to see the younger man’s sonata as a response to Liszt’s work, but whatever the case may be, its hero­ic scale, unconventional layout and high quality made it one of the most impressive sonatas since those of Beethoven and Schubert. Signifi­cantly, Brahms never wrote another piano sonata, as if he had said as much as he wanted to say in that genre. Instead he would go on to compose in more concentrated formats, but he also wrote a series of large-scale sets of variations, among which the Handel Variations must be considered his crowning achievement. Completed in September 1861 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the work shows Brahms at the height of his powers, confirming his position as the preeminent preserver and representative of tradition. In fact even Wagner saw its significance when Brahms played it to him, com­menting that it showed what could still be done with the old forms by someone who knew how to use them. Performing these landmarks in the19th-century literature for solo piano is the British pianist Jonathan Plowright, hailed in Gramophone as ‘one of the finest living pianists’, and here making his début on BIS.

"...This production is every bit up to BIS’s usual high standards, with the piano superbly captured in the now familiar Potton Hall acoustic ... Having already heard plenty of recordings of this repertoire, and indeed constantly seeing the same music crop up in the new release catalogues I was beginning to wonder if now might be the time to throw in the towel and do something other than this reviewing lark. Jonathan Plowright’s performances soon made me into a believer again, and I suggest he might be able to do the same for you."
Dominy Clements - - 5 June 2013

                           Interpretation  *****        Sound ******     Repertoire *****

Carsten Dúrer - Piano News magazine - May/June 2013

                                         Performance ****         Recording *****

"... Jonathan Plowright’s performance has tremendous warmth, plus an intimate atmosphere..."

Jessica Duchen - BBC Music magazine - April 2013

                                 IRR Outstanding

"...Jonathan Plowright’s brilliant new release on BIS is certainly one of the best recordings of the sonata to date. He has achieved a near-ideal relaization of a work oftern considered a triumph of musical imagination in the abstract but, in practical application, a virtual impossibility..."

Patrick Ricker - International Record Review - March 2013

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