Carles & Sofia, Piano Duo
KNS Classical A/069 / *****
It might appear odd to encounter a recording of Johannes Brahms' Lieder (German art songs) arranged for four hands on the piano. But why not? In actual fact, much of the German composer's orchestra music (all four symphonies, overtures and serenades), chamber music (quartets and quintets) and even his German Requiem exist in versions for piano four hands by his own hand.
Thus this selection of 18 songs, marvellously arranged by German doctor-turned-composer Christoph Ewers, comes across as wonderfully idiomatic. Nothing sounds overblown or over-projected. The often simple melodic lines are lovingly preserved while the rich accompaniment, so characteristic of Brahms himself, does not overwhelm.
There are some familiar numbers, including the tender Cradle Song (Op. 49 No. 4), Wie Melodien Zieht Es Mir (Op. 105 No. 1, famously quoted in the Second Violin Sonata) and the Two Songs for voice, viola and piano (Op. 91). The autumnal Four Serious Songs (Op. 121) provide for a more sober but sublime conclusion.
The Catalan duo of Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja are ever sensitive to details and nuances, and words are hardly missed in this utterly delightful hour-long recital.