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 Post subject: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:06 am 
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It's definitely time for my favorite composer to have his own thread. His chamber music is some of the best there is, objectively so. His lieder are great. His choral music is great. His solo piano pieces are some of the best ever written. Nearly every piece he wrote was a masterpiece. His music is carefully crafted and polished, extremely intelligent, and beautiful. I had some fellow Brahms disciples here but they've since moved on and ever since I haven't been able to drool publicly over this stuff with anyone, and I'd like to change that. Shikantaza, where have you gone?!


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:47 am 
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I can drool ignorantly over it. I don't know all that well yet but as I listen to various pieces I'll try to remember to post thoughts here.


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:00 pm 
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That would be awesome

I was just listening to the Clarinet Trio this morning. Superlative descriptors


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:43 pm 
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My big favourites:
_ Piano Concerto No.1
_ Cello Sonata No.1
_ Violin Concerto

I also very much like his 3rd Symphony, 2nd Piano Concerto, German Requiem, Piano Quintet, Clarinet Quintet, Intermezzi (op.118-119), Rhapsodies, Double Concerto, 3rd Piano Sonata, 2nd Cello Sonata.

Not too big on his others symphonies and his violin sonatas.

Clarinet Trio, noted!


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:54 pm 
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That's interesting. I've never met someone that likes the third but not forth symphony.


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:49 pm 
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What are the five best Brahms things?


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:41 am 
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I can give you my five favorites as of right now or I can give you a genre-representative selection of "greats". Which would you like?


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:54 am 
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I'm feeling ambitious so here we go. I wanted to show an example of why I love this guy's music so much and this little piece demonstrates a lot of the best qualities of Brahms. This is an Intermezzo, op. 118 no 2. It's in ternary form (A-B-A, sections labelled) and I've inserted numbers for notes.

At number 1, the main melodic material for the piece occurs in the highest voice in the first four bars, with the most important motif being the opening C#-B-D. Number 2 foreshadows the main melodic material for the B section in the upper voice, the E-B-A-G# in straight quarter notes.
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Numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6 are a development of the opening three-note motif from number 1. The development at number 3 happens in the upper voice through measure 29. At number 4 the development is in the lowest voice, the same C#-B-D repeated several times. Also at number 4 in the highest voice he's continuing to foreshadow the B melody with the quarter notes descending by step. At number 5 the development is in the highest voice, the three-note motif inverted. At number 6, C#-B-D is in the middle voice leading into the cadence (although whoever typeset this didn't realize what Brahms was doing--the D written as the upper note in the first inversion triad on beat one of measure 47 belongs to what preceded it on the staff above)

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Measure 49 marks the beginning of the B section, the melody of which is derived from material from the A section. Number 7 highlights that the B section melody is set against itself immediately in a near canon. The middle voice, notated by up-stemmed quarter notes in the left hand, is almost the exact same melody two beats behind the upper voice. Number 8 is a variation of the same canon. Number 9 switches the upper and lower melodies. The canon-like treatment continues through measure 73.

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Section A is restated

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Brahms worked his pieces over and over. He wrote, rewrote, reworked, burned, re-reworked. As a result, the product is highly polished and tight in terms of craftsmanship. And just looking at it you might expect the above and a lot of his music to come off somewhat academic and rigid. Far from it! Listen to this (not great audio quality in this recording but I like how he plays it).



This particular piece was written near the end of his life when his health was deteriorating, and like most of his piano music through this stretch of his life it carries a heavy melancholy, yet is achingly beautiful. It's Brahms ability to balance the most intelligent musical construction since Bach with the soul of a romantic that makes his music speak to me like no other music can.


Last edited by john17 on Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:40 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:02 pm 
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Awesome. Thanks for going through the trouble to do that. I really enjoyed following along with the score--it is indeed beautiful both in how it sounds and just looking at its form.


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:07 pm 
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Dreww wrote:
What are the five best Brahms things?

My favorites right now aren't very representative of his total output because I love his chamber music so much, but I'll list them anyway

Clarinet Quintet
Clarinet Trio
Clarinet Sonatas (can't decide between #1 & #2 which I like better)
Cello Sonata #2
Solo piano music of op. 119 (four short pieces)

A more representative list of greats would look something more like:

Lieder: Fünf Lieder, Op 106
Orchestral music: Symphony #4
Chamber music: well covered above, probably the Clarinet Quintet as the single greatest, but there's lots being left out, like the Piano Quintet
Choral Music: German Requiem, although he wrote a lot of a capella stuff that the German Requiem doesn't represent at all
Solo piano music: op.119 above is as good as any, although everything in op. 116, 117, 118, and 119 is great


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Dreww wrote:
Awesome. Thanks for going through the trouble to do that. I really enjoyed following along with the score--it is indeed beautiful both in how it sounds and just looking at its form.

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:41 pm 
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I forgot concertos. I'll go with the second piano concerto as the best, but the first piano concerto, violin concerto, and double concerto are all very good.


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:29 am 
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These are great recommendations. As of today, I only have the four symphonies by Furtwängler.


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:03 pm 
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john17 wrote:
That's interesting. I've never met someone that likes the third but not forth symphony.
Maybe I just haven't listened to it enough or have the wrond recording (Kleiber).


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 Post subject: Re: Brahms
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:39 pm 
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recent performance from local legend Richard Grayson... thought i'd post this for mr.17...



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