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The final release in Barry Douglas’ Brahms survey is another mash-up of pieces from different sets and periods. The works span the full gamut of the composer’s career from 1852 to 1893.

Five studies – a set of pieces assembled piecemeal and published together in 1877 – include re-workings of Weber, Chopin and Bach; the transcription for left hand of Bach’s great Chaconne is here set apart from the rest to conclude the programme. Douglas’ performance is the highlight of the disc, indeed one of the high points of the survey: Bach’s ‘whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings’, as Brahms described it, transcribed with ‘overwhelming excitement and awe’ and executed with consummate virtuosity.

This is a beautifully balanced recital alternating arrangements and original works in lively, illuminating relationships, starting with the famous anonymous Rakoczy March from the early 1850s, succeeded by the beautiful late Intermezzo, the spare, brief Canon (1864), two Gigues (possibly left over from discarded pastiche suites) and three pieces from Op 76 not present in earlier volumes.

The variety of moods and textures are well realised by Douglas, whether the neo-Bachian severity of the Canon and Gigues, Gluck’s Gavotte or the warm Romanticism of the Capriccios and Intermezzos.

The seven Hungarian Dances (omitted from Volume 5) lighten things up, framed by the four Studies. Chandos’s sound is, once again, bright and clear, providing the ideal ambience for Douglas.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing