Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67777

Theme and variations in D minor

after the second movement of Brahms's String Sextet No 1 in B flat major, Op 18; transcribed for Clara Schumann to mark her birthday on 13 September 1860

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Recording details: December 2009
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: October 2010
Total duration: 9 minutes 58 seconds

Cover artwork: Rainy Weather on the Elbe (1902) by Max Liebermann (1847-1935)
Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Ohlsson's playing not only persuaded me to appreciate the two Op 21 works but actually to listen to both discs all the way through in a single sitting. He is that good … this is a great Brahms recording that elevates and illuminates the music with a lightness of touch and heart that eludes many (yet he can darken the tone when required) … [Paganini Variations] perhaps the most musical performance on disc in recent years' (Gramophone)

'An authoritative new collection of all six Brahms essays in theme-and-variations composition … he's a born Brahmsian, equipped at the highest level with the necessary speed and power, the muscular strength and facility of finger tempered by breadth of outlook and solidity of intellect … Ohlsson's new Brahms conspectus adds up to an altogether remarkable achievement' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Ohlsson's muscular performance does not ignore the yearning that lies beneath the surface' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Garrick Ohlsson has the technical resources to tackle the particular challenges that Brahms attached to Paganini's famous theme' (The Irish Times)

'Ohlsson’s many musical insights and his magnificent technical skills make this a release demanding to be heard' (Classical Source)
Having heard a play-through of the noble slow movement of his String Sextet in B flat major, Op 18, Clara Schumann begged Brahms for a piano transcription of this movement, and he complied with the Theme and Variations in D minor in time for her birthday on 13 September 1860. Though this piano arrangement remained unpublished until after Brahms’s death, he was very fond of it. The stern, rather archaic theme and the rigid adherence of all the ensuing six variations to the theme’s dimensions, including repeats, suggest a debt to Bach, and especially to his D minor Chaconne for solo violin. But equally these variations so transform the theme, and are so rich in their contrasted sonorities, that they completely transcend the strictness of the form. The most striking inventions are probably the third variation, with its turbulent ebb and flow of rapid scales; the magniloquent fourth, which gives the theme its most impassioned expression in the major; and the sixth, which serves as a spectral coda, the theme returning as a mere shadow of itself.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

Après avoir entendu le majestueux mouvement lent de son Sextour à cordes en si bémol majeur op. 18, Clara Schumann demanda à Brahms de le transcrire pour piano, ce qu’il fit avec les Thème et Variations en ré mineur, terminées à temps pour l’anniversaire de la jeune femme, le 13 septembre 1860—un arrangement publié seulement après la mort du compositeur, qui pourtant l’adorait. Le thème austère, archaïsant, et la stricte adhésion des six variations suivantes aux dimensions de ce thème (reprises incluses) suggèrent une dette envers Bach et, notamment, sa Chaconne en ré mineur pour violon solo. Mais, en même temps, ces variations transforment tellement le thème et sont si riches en sonorités contrastées qu’elles transcendent complètement la rigueur de la forme. Les inventions les plus saisissantes sont probablement la variation no 3, avec son turbulent flux et reflux de gammes rapides; la grandiloquente no 4, qui donne au thème son expression en majeur la plus fervente; et la no 6, qui sert de coda spectrale, le thème se contentant de resurgir en ombre.

extrait des notes rédigées par Calum MacDonald © 2010
Français: Hypérion

Nachdem Clara Schumann das edle langsame Satz seines Streichsextets in B-Dur op. 18 einmal gehört hatte, bat sie Brahms um einen Klavierauszug dieses langsamen Satzes, und Brahms erfüllte ihr den Wunsch mit seinem Thema und Variationen in d-Moll rechtzeitig zu ihrem Geburtstag am 13. September 1860. Obwohl Brahms von diesem Klavierauszug sehr angetan war, wurde er erst nach seinem Tod veröffentlicht. Das strenge, recht archaische Thema und das starre Festhalten aller folgenden sechs Variationen an den Dimensionen des Themas einschließlich Wiederholungen lassen auf Einflüsse von Bach und vor allem seiner Chaconne in d-Moll für Sologeige schließen. Doch diese Variationen transformieren das Thema in solchem Maß und sind so reich in ihrer kontrastierenden Klangfülle, dass sie die Striktheit der Form sprengen. Die eindrucksvollsten Inventionen sind zweifellos die dritte Variation mit ihrem turbulenten Auf- und Abebben schneller Läufe; die deklamatorische vierte, die dem Thema seinen leidenschaftlichsten Ausdruck in Dur verleiht; und die sechste, die als geisterhafte Coda das Thema als bloßen Schatten seiner selbst zurückbringt.

aus dem Begleittext von Calum MacDonald © 2010
Deutsch: Henning Weber

Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...