Great artists talk about their past record­ings This month: BARRY DOU­GLAS Pi­anist

BBC Music Magazine - - The Full Score -


Brahms Works for Solo Pi­ano, Vol. 1 Barry Dou­glas (pi­ano)

Chan­dos CHAN10716 (2012)

When I was a stu­dent I was play­ing a lot of late Brahms – not per­form­ing it but play­ing it for my­self. When I learnt the First Pi­ano Con­certo, I felt very com­fort­able with his mu­sic and that I could be more suc­cess­ful with him. It was al­ways an am­bi­tion of mine to record all Brahms’s solo works and the con­cer­tos, but I never did any­thing about it. When I started with RCA in the mid-’80s it was all about Rus­sian things, be­cause I’d just won the com­pe­ti­tion in Moscow. But there was al­ways this thing at the back of my mind about Brahms, and then I had a se­ries of lessons with a fan­tas­tic Rus­sian pi­anist, Yevgeny Malenev, in Paris. We did a lot of Brahms to­gether and the way he pro­duced a sound to­tally in­spired me. I started record­ing for Chan­dos and Ralph Cousins, the man­ag­ing direc­tor, said ‘Do you want to do a com­plete com­poser?’ and I just said ‘Brahms!’ We looked around for a venue, and I was blown away by West Road Con­cert Hall in Cam­bridge. I wanted to make each disc like a pi­ano recital so that if any­body just bought one, they could

get a flavour of the whole creative life of Brahms in one go. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

MY FOND­EST MEM­ORY John Corigliano

Pi­ano Con­certo Barry Dou­glas (pi­ano); Saint Louis Sym­phony Orches­tra/leonard Slatkin RCA 09026 68100 2 (1996)

I’d known John Corigliano for quite a few years and then Leonard Slatkin, who was St Louis’s mu­sic direc­tor, and I de­cided to do his Pi­ano Con­certo. It hadn’t been recorded for a very long time, not since maybe the ’50s. John was there for all the re­hearsals, and we’d eat to­gether and we’d talk about the piece. I re­ally wanted to make sure that we got a good per­for­mance on the record­ing and that he was to­tally happy. I’ve com­mis­sioned and done first per­for­mances be­fore and the com­poser has been there, but John was so in­volved in the whole process, it felt like Beethoven was stand­ing over your shoul­der and giv­ing you hints. I didn’t re­alise un­til I le and went on to my next con­cert how bril­liant that was; I think I had to play Mozart some­where in the US and I thought

‘god I wish Mozart could be just there to give me some hints!’ I could ask John about every phrase, any­thing I was un­cer­tain about, and he was able to an­swer those ques­tions. So it was a mix­ture of the friend­ship, the fact that he was guid­ing me through the process, through the piece; that was the in­cred­i­ble thing, and I still love that record­ing to this day.


Tchaikovsky Con­certo No. 1 in B flat mi­nor, Op. 23

Barry Dou­glas (pi­ano); Lon­don Sym­phony Orches­tra/leonard Slatkin

RCA 5708-2-RC (1986)

I recorded the con­cer­tos of Tchaikovsky, and a con­cert fan­tasy, all with Leonard Slatkin. The first one, which was Con­certo No. 1, was one of the last

LPS, so that’s all there was on the CD re­lease; it was just 37 min­utes. It was all ar­ranged within two weeks of my winning in Moscow, be­cause Michael Emer­son was tak­ing over as Pres­i­dent of RCA Red Seal, and he signed me – I was the first artist he signed. We did it in Henry Wood

Hall in South Lon­don, and the Lon­don Sym­phony Orches­tra changed their sched­ule and stepped in at the last se­cond; so it was all very dra­matic. This was the first stu­dio record­ing I’d ever done in my life, so the process of do­ing it was enor­mous. I think I su ered a lit­tle bit be­cause I was so new to the whole game of record­ing; all I knew was play­ing stu live. I would love to do it again be­cause while it was great and very suc­cess­ful – ac­tu­ally it was in the Bill­board chart for a very long time – I re­alise just how my view of this piece has changed enor­mously. In those days I would pull things apart and play it more rhap­sod­i­cally, and now it’s tighter. I think my ap­proach is cleaner now than it was in the past.

Barry Dou­glas’s new al­bum is re­leased by Chan­dos Records on 2 Novem­ber

Early days:Barry Dou­glas in 1988, two years af­ter his Tchaikovsky record­ing

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