Sunday, April 10, 2016

Josep Colom Plays Johannes Brahms

For a long time the variation was no more than a scholarly exercise in which the thematic element was systematically tortured, dressed in a thousand different ways, by varying the rhythm, the tempo and the harmonic pattern of the initial material. A particularly useful and, technically speaking, enriching exercise, to be sure, because it required the practical application of the whole range of knowledge acquired during the performer’s musical stu- dies, but, in most cases, it was a soulless exercise. It will be alleged that a certain Cabezon, in the distant past, and, later, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and, above all, Beethoven were able to employ the form in an expressive manner. But it nonetheless remains true that the artificial aspect of this musical form prevailed for a long time and very soon became the favoured stamping ground for the spectacular — sometimes in dubious taste — and the virtuosic — often gratuitous. At the least it represented a convenient invention, a pre-established model into which the insertion of a musical discourse was almost child’s play. With Brahms a veritable transformation took place. The variation ceases being an end in itself and was submitted to the creative will of the composer, because the young Hamburg musician soon realized that this infinitely malleable form was the ideal means for saying everything and even while still in the midst of the period of his development towaids perfection, was capable of rendering the most subtle states of mind in terms of authorized technical endeavour. He would repeatedly demonstrate that at the very opposite pole of the spectacular, the variation constituted the perfect refuge for discretion, intimacy, restraint, for the deepest emotions, and for an authentic romantic expressiveness. Accessorily, one might say, he was to use the form to evoke majesty and power (Haendel Variations) and even, why not ?, the technical virtuosity so often held at bay (Paganini Variations). Later on, having acquired complete mastery, his musical expression took on other forms, but the fascination of the variation would always manifest itself, and it was often built into works'that did not formally bear the title of variations, appearing in the most varied manner, as in the first piano sonata, the passacaglia in the fourth symphony and some of the Lieder. But during the period that interests us here the use of the variation became almost an obsession, to the point that, taken together, the works in this form represent a considerable body in Brahms’s output. With one exception, they were all written between 1854 and 1862, often in the greatest secrecy, and they offer the performer concerned with the truth an unequalled range of expression.
from the booklet

Josep Colom
Johannes Brahms

Complete Variations for piano


Cd. 1

1 Variations sur un thème de Haendel, Op. 24  28:28
2 Variations sur un thème de Schumann, Op. 9  21/13
3 Variations sur un thème de Schumann, Op. 23  17:50
pour piano à quatre mains
4 Sextuor Op. 18, transcription du 2e mouvement  9:30


Cd. 2

1 Variations sur un thème de Haydn, Op. 56b  18:08
pour deux pianos
2 Variations sur un thème original, Op. 21 n° 1  18:42
3 Variations sur un thème hongrois, Op. 21 n° 2  7:11
4 Variations sur un thème de Paganini, Op. 35 25:50
1er & 2ème Cahiers


Josep Colom - p
Carmen Deleito - p [Cd. 1, # 3 & Cd. 2, # 1]

Recorded in Paris ; June & September 1991


Melanchthon said...

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for this one MM, never heard Mr. Colom, and he was in Warsaw at least once, as jury member of the Chopin Competition.