Thursday, 21 April 2011

CD Review: Boris Kraljevic plays Brahms (The Straits Times, April 2011)

BRAHMS Piano Works, Op.117-119
BORIS KRALJEVIC, Piano / KNS Classical A/018 / ****1/2

Johannes Brahms composed piano music all his life. While opening accounts with big stormy sonatas, his 20 final pieces (Op.116-119) were exquisite miniatures, which he titled mostly Intermezzos and Capriccios, with one Ballade, Romance and Rhapsody apiece. Less is more in these gems, encapsulating a lifetime of musical thoughts, passions and fancies. Montenegrin pianist Boris Kraljevic, now a permanent resident in Singapore where he teaches at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, sounds like an ideal Brahms interpreter.

In the Op.117 set of three Intermezzos, he allies lyrical beauty with smouldering disquiet. Further contrasts emerge in the Six Piano Pieces of Op.118. The familiar A major Intermezzo (No.2) is drawn to 7 minutes, but its longeurs are so well-judged as to prevent boredom from setting in. His ability to allow the music to breathe and unfold comes to glorious fruition in the final Intermezzo in dark E flat minor. The Op.119 foursome provides the greatest variety of moods and emotions, culminating with one last heroic hurrah in the E flat major Rhapsody. Forget the awkwardly written programme notes, it’s the music one is after.

This CD is available on sale at

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