Frank Lévy gives a wonderfully nuanced reading of Brahms' late piano works. He makes them sing, but at the same time they are entirely pianistic and rich in character. Lévy is able to give these pieces lyricism, but not to the point where they sound like a piano transcription of a song, nor does he try to make the pieces sound like transcriptions of orchestral works. The two Rhapsodies, which are closest to the textures of Brahms' orchestral music, are full of detail in the phrasing that would be impossible to get out of an orchestra. That detailed phrasing is found in all the pieces here and is what makes them special. There is the tiniest of hesitations in the opening of the second Intermezzo of Op. 118, which makes it easy to follow just what is important in that series of notes. The following Ballade is not as aggressive in its outer sections as some make it, but it still has a strong sense of determination in it. Tempos, dynamics, and expressions are nudged, but not exaggerated. It is as if Lévy is gently breathing life into the music.
AllMusic Review by Patsy Morita
|Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118|
|Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119|
|Intermezzi (3) for piano, Op. 117|
|Rhapsodies (2) for piano, Op. 79|