Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Brahms – Early Piano Music

The 2nd Piano Sonata Op. 2. (1853)

Brahms is 20 and it's the year he meets and moves in with the Schumanns. We've already heard his First Piano Sonata, where we indicated that the piece was essentially a symphony for solo piano. This piece is no different. It's far more demanding than the first one even though Brahms claimed to have written this one first. He thought the C Major the better composition.

To say that Evisina gets Brahms would an understatement. You get to hear things in this music that rarely get out because most do not play it as a symphony. It was this symphonic quality that impressed everybody about Brahms. They kept pestering him to write one and actually as we shall see, he wrote many before his Op. 68. They were just written for piano and fewer instruments.

And so, published on Jul 29, 2013, here is  
Johannes Brahms Piano Sonata #2 in f# minor  Op. 2
Performed by Anastasiya Evsina 
Minato Mirai Recital Hall, July 25, 2013

[5/27/16: This performance by Hélène Grimaud must be considered as well.]

[6/2/16: This performance by Krystian Zimerman is also a strong contender.  Notice the tremendous dynamic range of these recordings. 
Allegro non troppo, ma energico 
Andante con espressione 
Scherzo: Allegro -- Poco più moderato 
Finale: Sostenuto -- Allegro non troppo e rubato -- Molto sostenuto ]

Scherzo Op. 4 (1851) 

Brahms is 18 and he had it all together by then. This is his earliest piano piece with an Opus number. It is and isn't influenced by Chopin. It has more of an extended rondo form. Again, the symphonic interpretations are by far the best. Here's an example of one of the best I've ever heard.

So, published on Dec 2, 2013, here is
Johannes Brahms Scherzo Op. 4 in e flat minor  (1851) 
Boris Petrushansky 
Live from the recital made in Small Hall
of Moscow Conservatory - 9 January 2013

[6/2/16: I suppose it would really be quite a mistake to fail to recognize Krystian Zimerman's performance.  The dynamics of this recording are amazing.]

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