In Townsville for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, the pianist pulls one composer apart and puts the other back together.

“Brahms is somebody that I think you could safely say I’ve been in love with for most of my life,” pianist Orli Shaham tells me ahead of her performance of the composer’s Third Piano Quartet later that evening at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. “Probably since about mid-teenage-dom – I think that’s when you finally get past the complexities of it,” she says. “You start to see right through to the soul.”

It was this love of Brahms that led to Shaham’s 2015 recording for Canary Classics, Brahms Inspired, which presents the composer’s piano music alongside works Shaham commissioned from Bruce Adolphe and Avner Dorman, the world premiere recording of Australian composer Brett Dean’s Hommage à Brahms für Klavierand other works that either inspired, or were inspired by, Brahms.

A rather unique tribute, the recording was the result of preparation for a different Brahmsian project. “I was getting close to turning [Shaham clears her throat] 40, and I thought that by my 40th birthday I should at least programme the B Flat Concerto,” she says. “Kind of...

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