In the late '40s and early '50s, the hot-shot Austrian virtuoso pianists were Jörg Demus, Paul Badura-Skoda, Alfred Brendel, and Walter Klien. Demus was elegant, Badura-Skoda was soulful, Brendel was intellectual, and Klien was passionate. Of the four, only Brendel went on to a successful international career while the rest remained European artists. Of the four, Klien was at once the least and the best known in America, the least because he did not make his American debut until 1969 and the best because his recordings of huge hunks of the standard repertoire were released in America on the budget-priced Vox label and thus widely available. For those American listeners who picked up on Klien, his combination of ruthless virtuosity, relentless intensity and reckless passion sounded distinctly un-Austrian but utterly compelling. In this five disc set of most of Brahms' piano music, Klien proves himself one of the great Brahms' pianists. The strength of his Ballades, the power of his F minor Sonata, the lyricism of his of his Intermezzi, tenderness of his Waltzes, the sternness of his Handel Variations, the funky rhythms of his Hungarian Dances rank him with Gilels and Richter and Kempff as a Brahms' player. While the Brahms completist will regret this set lacks his first two piano sonatas plus his Op. 21 and Paganini Variations, the listener looking for a superlative set of performances of Brahms' piano music could do no better. Vox's sound has its problems -- dimness, grayness, and harshness, plus a handful of dropouts -- the raw honesty of the production nevertheless reveals the greatness of Klien's playing.