Tackling the solo piano works of Johannes Brahms is a tall order for any artist. Technical demands are great, particularly careful, clear voicing of the sometimes dense, thick texture that Brahms was so fond of. Brahms also presents many complex musical, interpretive challenges that can vex even the most seasoned performer. Successful recordings of these works by emerging young artists, therefore, are especially hard to come by. Dutch-born pianist Thomas Beijer, a 2007 winner of the Young Pianist Foundation competition, makes his CD debut performing the dense Third Piano Sonata; the deeply introspective 3 Intermezzi, Op. 117; and the passionate Rhapsodies, Op. 79. Beijer has more than ample technical skills to deliver on every aspect of Brahms' writing. His voicing is pristinely clear even in the dark, brooding textures of the First Rhapsody; his use of the pedal is judicious, preventing unwanted washes of sound. Tone pleasingly varies from powerful and muscular to gentle and intricate. Given his young age of only 20 years at the time of recording, Beijer also shows great potential in musical insight. The best place to observe these skills are in the stark, almost mournful Op. 117 Intermezzi, where Beijer plays with great intimacy, unhurried pacing, and immaculate control over dynamics. Throughout the album, Beijer does display a very slight inclination toward over-sentimentality, perhaps slowing a bit too much and too frequently at the ends of phrases, but his is still a career to watch with great anticipation.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5|
|Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117|
|Rhapsodies (2) for piano, Op. 79|