The British pianist Sarah Beth Briggs was something of a child prodigy, becoming a BBC Young Artist at the tender age of 11. She studied with the ill-fated scholar-pianist Denis Matthews and marries something of his cerebral approach to considerable charisma, and prior to the release of this 2019 solo debut, she had a good deal of under-the-radar buzz. Briggs has often played chamber music, and this recital of music by Schumann and Brahms seems informed by that experience: Briggs sometimes steps forward and sometimes hangs back, and in each case it's not where you quite expect it. The highlights are the three Brahms Intermezzi, Op. 117 (sample any one of them -- all are extraordinary), and the six Klavierstücke, Op. 118. Here Briggs achieves hushed, deeply interior readings that may be unlike any others you have heard, and she gets fine engineering support from Avie, working in Cedars Hall at the Wells Cathedral School. In the Schumann Kinderszenen, Op. 15, where players often aim for a kind of quiet, hypnotic quality, Briggs is paradoxically a bit more powerful and public. Your mileage may vary, but there isn't a single piece where you won't feel you're hearing something new. The opening Papillons, Op. 2, are a strong, arrestingly spontaneous-sounding curtain-raiser. Highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|3 Intermezzi, Op. 117|
|6 Klavierstücke, Op. 118|
|Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Op. 15|