Friday, October 22, 2010

A Sampler of Brahms's Solo Piano Music

"For me, the slow movement is the most beautiful love music after Tristan, and the most erotic." Claudio Arrau on Brahms' Piano Sonata No. 3.

I am not sure if Arrau temporarily lost his mind to the beauty of that slow movement, because actually it was written 12 years before Tristan. Anyway here is another playlist to throw off the Friday fever. Lately I grew a fondness for 20-track playlists, which you can listen through in one sitting, and get a good overview on one theme or genre, so you can investigate further by yourself. And this Brahms playlist is my first try that I want to share. Brahms is by no means my favorite composer, but just as Britten said that he played through all of Brahms' music every year just to see if he still disliked it as much, I constantly find myself listening to Brahms. Even when my heart still resents the marble coldness on its surface sometime, I have come to realize that he is perhaps very underrated as a composer for solo piano. The Op.10 Ballades, which Brahms wrote before the age of 22, are up there with the masterpieces of Chopin. And Op.116-119 as a whole is in the same league with Beethoven's last three piano sonatas.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Brahms Solo Piano Music (20 tracks, total time: 1 hour). It features 20 pianists from Michelangeli to Yuja Wang playing 19 pieces. The only duplication being the C-sharp Minor Intermezzi, both performance from Gould and Pogorelich are included. The bookends of the playlist are a enchantingly beautiful A minor waltz and the last of Paganini Variation Book I. I know the four-hand waltz is not strictly solo piano music but I like the current shape of this playlist, hope you enjoy it too. Have a nice weekend.


  1. I think Arrau was using 'after' in the sense that the best love music is Tristan, and Brahms comes next. ;)

  2. I wanted to hear something from his Requiem which I was recently informed was written at the time of his mother's death about the feelings of those left behind. I don't see that on the list.

    1. You can find the requiem in the Complete Brahms playlist

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