Stories » Murray Perahia conquers 'Brahms' Handel Variations,' an early work that manages to span 2 eras

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Murray Perahia conquers 'Brahms' Handel Variations,' an early work that manages to span 2 eras

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After a long and successful period devoted to J. S. Bach, Grammy winning pianist Murray Perahia shifts his attention back to Brahms for the first time in twenty years. The new Sony Classical recording finds a perfect link between the music of Bach and the Romantic period in Brahms's Handel Variations. This early work manages to span the two eras, with a theme that is solidly Baroque but treated in a deeply Romantic style.

It was toward the end of the 1990s that Perahia's work on Handel set him on the road to Bach. His many Bach recordings – including the Goldberg Variations, the Keyboard concertos, the English Suites and Partitas– garnered enthusiastic reviews and countless international awards.

Perahia feels the Handel Variations reflect strong similarities to Bach's Goldberg Variations: both are gigantic works conceived with immense vision and the variations adhere closely to the thematic material and paired groupings, typically employed by Bach.

In this recording, the Handel Variations also represent the meeting of three great musical minds: Handel is heard anew, but within the Romantic brush-stoke of Brahms, performed by a master pianist who is at the height of his musical powers.

Also on the new recording are key works from Brahms' middle and late piano periods. The Two Rhapsodies, op.79 from his middle period, form the centerpiece of the album and are deeply Romantic. The recording finishes with the introspective and autumnal Piano Pieces opp.118 and 119, both from Brahms' late period.

In the more than 35 years he has been performing on the concert stage, Murray Perahia has become one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, performing in all of the major international music centers and with every leading orchestra. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with whom he has toured as conductor and pianist throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South East Asia.

Murray Perahia is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, and he holds honorary doctorates from Leeds University and Duke University. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary KBE by Her Majesty The Queen, in recognition of his outstanding service to music.

Murray Perahia is an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist for almost 40 years. His longtime affinity for the music of Bach is reflected in his discography, which features critically acclaimed performances of the solo Keyboard Concerti, the Goldberg Variations, and English Suites and all six Partitas. These previous Bach recordings have garnered a Grammy Award, several Grammy nominations, a Gramophone Award for Best Instrumental Recording, and Top 10 Billboard Classical Chart positions. He is also the recipient of a Grammy award for his recording of Frederic Chopin's complete Etudes, Op. 10 and Op. 25.