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Late Brahms Piano Works -- that's Ops 116 - 119 mainly.

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Some people love ‘em. Others hate ‘em. And there’s so much on record, loads of majorly different interpretations.

Me, I am enjoying a recording by Afanassiev which I recommend very enthusiastically. A spacious reading which really suits the music, and without a trace of lugubriousness and self-consciousness which I think can spoil many traditional interpretations.

I also like a record by Gieseking, made in the 50s. You have the usual Gieseking translucency of tone, of course. He plays with a remarkable lightness, a whimsy, which makes this quite a magical recording.
And there are a couple of other nice ones I know. Richter does Op118/6 brilliantly in the Leipzig CD (the one with the Beethoven sonatas). And if you play around with google enough you will find a concert bootleg of Op 118 by Zimmerman which, despite the poor sound, sounds really special. Again, there is nothing maudlin about Zimmerman’s Brahms. But there is a lot of feeling, much of it rather bleak and frightening.

I’ll let others speak for Lupu and Kempe and Rubinstein – I wonder if there are any fans of their Brahms styles out there.

Anyways, here’s a space to say anything you want about these enigmatic works.

I am certainly on the love 'em side. Wonderful, very poetical music.

And I also agree with you – very interesting performances from Gieseking (I also enjoy his earlier 1930’s versions), Lupu, Afanassiev, Kempff (I personally prefer his more spontaneous 1960 op 118 to the latter DG set) and particularly Richter whose mix of limpid strength and intimate expressiveness is revelatory in these short pieces (but, as usual with Richter, there are many different fragmentary recordings).

Other interpreters of the late Brahms piano pieces I particularly enjoy are Yudina (she even wrote a very interesting essay on the Brahms Intermezzi), Peter Rosel (largely unknown but a fine artist), Gyorgy Sebok (1960 Erato) and the younger François Chaplin (1998 Ocean).


The Rady Lupu disc is a must have IMO.

It's one of the few cds I'm able to listen to from A to Z.

Lupu's Brahms is lovely.

I need to revisit that Yudina Brahms CD. I have only heard the LvB on that CD. 

George,   Isn't this set by Katchen considered the gold standard for Brahms solo piano works?


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