Brahms: Variations on a theme by Paganini, Klavierstücke Op 118, Fantasien Op 116, Sonata No 3 in F minor and more MEII Enterprises 6 82131 86689 4 (3CD) ★★★★.
In this fifth and final instalment of Pianist Nada’s traversal of the complete Brahms solo piano music, we find ourselves presented with a varied programme spanning the virtuoso Paganini Variations, the engaging Op 116 and 118 sets of piano pieces and the less frequently heard Chorale Preludes for Organ Op 122 – arranged by the pianist and dispersed cleverly throughout the three-CD album. Pianist Nada offers up Baroque grandeur and elegance in the chorales, with an understanding of the instrument for which they were written. The Opus 116 gems are given all the loving care that they need (from the tender No 4 Intermezzo to the turbulent No 7 Capriccio), as are the Op 118 set. And what a treat to hear the feisty No 4 from the Five studies after JS Bach, played with determination and a flowing forward drive. Despite a somewhat muffled recorded sound, there is much here to discover and surprise.