Johannes Brahms

Ballades (4) for piano, Op. 10

    Description by Steven Coburn

    These four works operate as a set and should be played that way. Even though the first Ballade has an inscription that it is based on Herder's translation of the Scottish ballad Edward, no one has found proof that the other three are linked to this story in any way. Whether there was an underlying literary connection in Brahms' mind hardly matters though, as the four Ballades are linked into a dramatic narrative in so compelling a manner that some commentators consider this an unlabeled sonata. Stylistically it is rather more advanced than the earlier sonatas, and anticipates the First Piano Concerto. The first Ballade, Andante, in D minor, opens with a slow and grim march, which is followed by a bold and dramatic central Allegro and concludes with a variation of the opening. The second Ballade, Andante, in D major, is structured much the same way. The opening though, is lyrical while the central episode is substantially longer and more varied than in the first Ballade. Brahms labeled the third Ballade in B minor Intermezzo. The three-part plan is reversed, with the faster music surrounding a slower central section. The tone of this scherzo-like piece is fantastic and lugubrious, but in spite of this, it seems to bridge the gap emotionally between the heroic and epic tone of the first two Ballades to the lyrical and wistful final Ballade. This concluding piece in B major is more complex structurally than its predecessors, although the principal tone is lyrical rather than dramatic. The entire set is an early masterpiece, entirely original and effective.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 1 in D minor. Andante (after the Scottish ballad "Edward")
    2. No. 2 in D major. Andante
    3. No. 3 in B minor. Intermezzo. Allegro
    4. No. 4 in B major. Andante con moto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 BIS BIS 2137
    2017 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186568
    2016 La Dolce Volta LDV 1705
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975104
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796277
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796328
    2016 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902191
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796018
    2015 Icsm ICSM 004
    2015 Klanglogo / Rondeau KL1408
    2015 Praga / Praga Digitals PRD 250309
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Decca 002369302
    2015 APR (Appian) APR 7701
    2014 Estonian Record Productions ERP 7513
    2013 Orfeo C 883132B
    2013 Elatus 49562
    2013 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290840108
    2013 Decca / S / Universal
    2013 Doremi / Doremi Records DHR 71154
    2013 ICA Classics ICAC 5108
    2012 Signum Classics SIGCD 309
    2012 Sony Classical 88725412902
    2012 Atoll ACD 208
    2012 Victor Elmaleh Collection VEC 103
    2012 The Entertainment Group 107860
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Apex 2564673176
    2011 Gallo CD1203
    2011 Naïve OP 30528
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94091
    2010 Newton Classics 8802010
    2010 Timpani / Zebralution
    2010 CBC Records 926786
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 477 818-3
    2009 Oehms Classics 585
    2009 Thorofon Classics / Zebralution
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 7572992
    2008 MDG 9041494
    2008 MDG 6041494
    2008 Bella Edition / Zebralution
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Sony Music Distribution 714854
    2008 Maestro Music 4695658
    2008 VAI Audio 4469
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93554
    2007 Aura Music 223042
    2007 Eroica Classical Recordings 3319
    2007 Warner Classics 69846
    2007 Melodiya 1001130
    2007 Melodiya 1001131
    2006 Rhino
    2006 Claves 502508
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 4767704
    2006 Virgin 32628
    2006 Apex
    2006 Globe 5036
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 901943
    2006 Cypres 1642
    2006 Vanguard 1657
    2006 Danacord 643
    2006 Edel Records 2822
    2005 RCA Red Seal 67887
    2005 Brilliant 92182
    2005 Naïve OP 30421
    2005 Brilliant 92615
    2005 Edel Classics 2772
    2004 Vanguard 1491
    2004 Brilliant 92392
    2004 Vox 3612
    2003 Philips 475024
    2003 BBC Legends / BBC Music 41142
    2003 Brilliant 99941
    2003 Apex 2564603712
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000085502
    2003 Aura Records 219
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000001602
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 87859
    2002 Naïve OP 30366
    2002 VAI Audio 1206
    2002 Aura Classics 2002
    2001 Teldec 25253
    2001 Hyperion 67237
    2001 Cypres 9612
    2000 Aura Classics 0224
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 457762
    2000 Naxos 8501201
    2000 Aura Classics 2000
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63063
    1999 Philips 456904
    1999 Decca
    1999 Agora Musica 185
    1999 Philips 442109
    1999 Vanguard 118
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 447398
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1998 Koch International Classics 7411
    1998 Russian Revelation 10033
    1998 Philips 456862
    1997 Russian Disc 10061
    1997 VAI Audio 1144
    1997 Berlin Classics 0020952
    1997 Decca
    1997 London 455347
    1996 Astree 8753
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 449 623-2GJB9
    1996 Decca 4523382
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447407
    1996 Philips 446920
    1995 ASV 6161
    1995 Nimbus 1788
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon 439466
    1995 Praga 250039
    1994 Music & Arts CD-817
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 55025
    1994 Denon Records 78906
    1994 RCA 902661618
    1994 Naxos 550352
    1994 Harmonia Mundi 1903082
    1994 RCA 902661862
    1994 Opus 111 30103
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 437374
    1993 Sony Classical 52651
    1992 Antes Edition 319009
    1991 Timpani 1C1003
    1983 Deutsche Grammophon 400043
    Amadeus Speciale 4243
    Deutsche Grammophon 423401
    Accord 204922
    Quintana 903082
    Antes 319009
    Philips 411103
    Philips 135161
    Eurodisc 69245
    London 433849
    Deutsche Grammophon 431595
    Brilliant 92182/5
    Brilliant 92392/35
    Brilliant Classics 93554/30
    Sony Music Distribution 47196
    EMI Music Distribution 557125
    Eurodisc 69247
    RCA 61862
    CBS Records 37800
    Nimbus 5304
    Teldec
    Meyer Media 6005
    London 430053
    Discover 920123
    Vanguard 4034
    Brilliant 92615/8
    Aura Music 212
    Aura Music 219
    Adda 590034
    Berlin Classics 0090312
    RCA 5672
    Todd Marsh 8197
    Lyrinx 130
    Cypres 9612-8
    Tzar
    IMP Classics 1044
    Chamber Orchestra of Philadelp
    Philips Classics 446925
    The Piano Library 192