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Brahms is in much vogue in the studio at the moment, with Barry Douglas and Jonathan Plowright in varying stages of complete surveys, and plenty of other recordings coming piecemeal into the catalogue.

For his first recording in four years – since his award-winning release of Mompou – Arcadi Volodos has turned to (mostly) late Brahms with the complete sets, Opp 117 and 118, prefaced, bizarrely, by only half the Op 76 set (all eight could easily have been accommodated). The booklet note gives no reason for the omission and Volodos has them in his repertoire (you can find him playing Nos 5 and 8 on YouTube).

This is a shame as his playing is wonderfully cultured, full of insight and beautifully precise phrasing, with typically lush tone. His rapt treatment of the Three Intermezzi Op 117, is entrancing, although some may cavil at the rather relaxed tempo for the best known of the set, the first in E-flat major (though he is in good company in this choice). The pace of Nos 2 and 3 is of a piece, as it should be since all three Intermezzi are marked in varying species of Andante; so the set as a whole is musically consistent.

The four intermezzi, ballade and romance that make up the Op 118 set are rendered in as beguiling a fashion. This music has moments of greater drama, particularly in the opening Intermezzo and especially in the Ballade (No 3), to which Volodos responds with playing of equivalent power in a near-perfect account. Sony’s sound is superb, too. So I have to ask again, why did they not give us Nos 5 to 8 of Op 76 as well? I have taken a star off the rating for that!

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing