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Sirodeau has taken the late piano music of Brahms, Op. 116 -119, and stripped out the Capriccio, Ballade and Romance, leaving just the Intermezzi. He only plays the A major one from Op. 118 and leaves out the C major from Op. 119 but includes four from the earlier Op. 76. His reasoning, which is fair enough, is that ‘however carefully composers of the 19th century may have judged their work for publication, there was no implication that these collections should necessarily be played in that particular order’, and he doesn’t, instead meandering back and forth between the works.

As a prolific composer himself, he explores the Intermezzi with affectionate curiosity. The marking from Op. 116 no. 5, Andante con grazia ed intimissimo sentimento, serves to characterise the whole album. It does not attempt chronological progression but captures Brahms’ gentle musings, momentos of the women who attracted him through the years – I’ve never believed they were all, if any, about Clara Schumann, and she knew it. Sirodeau is at times a little too careful but if you want to settle down for an hour, like Brahms, with a bottle of red wine and a good cigar, and think about old times, this is the perfect way to do it.

Simon Mundy Read the full review on Agora Classica


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