“James Brawn in Recital Volume 2”
Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata in E major, K. 380 – Sonata in C major, K. 159 “La Caccia”
Johann Sebastian Bach: Préludes from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I: Prélude in C major, BWV 846, nº 1 – Prélude in C minor, BWV 847, nº 2 – Prélude in D major, BWV 850, nº 5 – Prélude in E-Flat minor, BWV 853, nº 8 – Prélude in E major, BWV 854, nº 9
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata in A major, K. 331/300i, Nº 11 “Rondo alla Turca” – Fantasia in D minor, K. 397, nº 3
Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle in A minor, WoO 50 “Für Elise”
Franz Schubert: Moment musical in F minor, opus 94, D. 780, nº 3 – Impromptu in G-Flat major, opus 90, D. 899, nº 3
Frédéric Chopin: Prélude nº 4 in E minor, opus 28 – Etude nº 12 in C minor, opus 25 “Ocean” – Etude nº 3 in E major, opus 10 “La Tristesse” – Etude nº 1 in A-Flat major, opus 25 “Aeolian Harp” – Etude nº 5 in G-Flat major, opus 10 “Black Key” – Prélude nº 15 in D-Flat major, opus 28 “Raindrop” – Prélude in C-Sharp minor, opus 45
Franz Liszt: Consolation nº 3 in D-Flat major, S. 172
Johannes Brahms: Waltz in A-Flat major, opus 39, nº 15 – Intermezzo in A major, opus 118, nº 2
Edvard Grieg: Arietta in E-Flat major, opus 12, nº 1
Alexander Scriabin: Etude in C-Sharp minor, opus 2, nº 1
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Prélude in C-Sharp minor, opus 3, nº 2 – Prélude in G-Sharp minor, opus 32, nº 12 – Prélude in B minor, opus 32, nº 10 – Prélude in D major, opus 23, nº 4 – Prélude in G major, opus 32, nº 5
Sergei Prokofiev: Toccata in D minor, opus 11
George Gershwin: I Got Rhythm
James Brawn (Piano)
Recording: Potton Hall, Suffolk, England (August 18-20 and November 27-28, 2014) – 106’ 55
2 CDs MSR Classics MS 1502 – Booklet in English
British pianist James Brawn is a busy man. Recently occupied with completing the first four volumes of A Beethoven Odyssey, in between, the Steinway Artist has also been able to compile a sequel to his James Brawn in Recital recording. This second collection, aptly titled The Time Traveller and his Muse, is a musical summary of cherished pieces performed during the 2014-2015 concert season.
What is interesting is the channeling of his energies in a rewind. The liner notes explain his take on how modern life has become so frenzied; hence, greater reason for a pleasant respite: pause with cause by finding peace in past music. Beyond this circumspection is his virtuosic transportation to the keys... The Time Traveller has rolled out a sublime journey.
James Brawn is analytical and adept in the shading of a composition and its meaningful outcome. Likewise, the CD set is presented in chronological format: momentum moves as a predictable forward.
Works by Domenico Scarlatti open the first CD with examples of Mr. Brawn’s use of punctilious staccato notes and nimbleness. A delectably spunky élan, combined with well-articulated runs aid in capturing the essence of “La Caccia.”
With 31 œuvres gleaned from 13 composers, this broad album allows Mr. Brawn to make his own convincing musical arguments: the textures are consequential and varied to color the landscaping. For instance, his delicate hammering of the A-Flat helps freely emote the incessant raindrops inside Chopin’s Prélude in D-Flat; the subsequent Prélude in C-Sharp minor is simply dark yet dreamy.
At times James Brawn subtly pushes the tempo, then unexpectedly hesitates for a nanosecond. This erudite remark causes the listener to hold breath in anticipation of the ensuing note. Brahms’ Waltz justifies this idea. This can also be heard in the lyrically rich Franz Schubert Impromptu.
Affinity for such music can be discernable since Mr. Brawn repeats three of the pieces found in his first In Recital; however, these [selections] are a bit shorter: Bach’s Prélude in C major has a stronger flounce and buttery dreaminess with an embellishment upon the conclusion; both of Liszt’s Consolation conjure extensions of pensive solemnity while this Rachmaninoff Prélude in B minor has greater contrasting dynamics and briskly changing tempos.
Rachmaninoff’s major key compositions are worthy of attention: the Prélude in D major engenders a sense of grand eloquence and loving embrace; the Prélude in G major shimmers and flutters unremittingly, like a wispy soufflé. Mr. Brawn flickers through the Prokofiev Toccata with prickly incisiveness and quirky pulsations.
The manière by which James Brawn expresses himself is dignified and sincere. Shunning overworked fancies, his expertise shines through with the best of intentions...and it works.