Bridge / Britten / Part – Various Works

Frank Bridge  (1879-1941)

Two Poems For Orchestra

———————

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Gloriana – Symphonic Suite, Opus 53a

Passacaglia from “Peter Grimes,” Opus 33b

Sinfonia Da Requiem, Opus 20

———————-

Arvo Part (b. 1935)

Cantus (in Memory of Benjamin Britten)

———————

BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra – Conducted by Norman Del Mar (Two Poems For Orchestra, Gloriana)

BBC Symphony Orchestra – Conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (Passacaglia, Sinfonia Da Requiem, Cantus)

Recorded at various English venues from 1977-1981.

———————

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

I know the star of this disc is Benjamin Britten, but I have to say I think the star here is Frank Bridge’s Tone Poem #1 – a real charmer – (I can hear you all screaming “But ‘Passacaglia!’) – maybe my head needed something really pleasant to listen to – and it did not disappoint.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES – John Mayhew – 1995.

This record celebrates the music of Britten and his mentor and teacher Frank Bridge, and ends with a tribute to his memory.

Frank Bridge studied composition under Stanford and became an accomplished viola player and conductor; when Britten was 14, Bridge gave him private lessons in composition and became a valued friend.

Bridge’s Two Poems (after Richard Jefferies) are among his lesser-known works. The first is scored for a standard orchestra of double woodwind, four horns, timpani, harp and strings and is prefaced by these words from ‘The Open Air’: ‘Those thoughts and feelings which are not sharply defined, but have a haze of distance and beauty about them, are always the dearest.’

The second poem is for a larger orchestra which includes trumpets, tuba and percussion; at the head of the score are these words from ‘The Story of my Heart’: ‘How beautiful a delight to make the world joyous! The song should never be silent, the dance never still, the laugh should sound like water which runs for ever.’

Gloriana was written for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and first staged at Covent Garden on 8th June 1953. Set in the last years of the reign of Elizabeth I, the opera is a skillful mix of Tudor idioms and rhythms and Britten’s own unmistakable style.

Some time after its first performance, Britten arranged an orchestral suite from the opera. First comes The Tournament, then Late Song whose optional tenor voice is usually taken by the oboe; the Courtly Dances are often heard independently, and the final movement is Gloriana moritura.

Peter Grimes was the first English opera to gain international footing and met with phenomenal success at its first performance at Sadler’s Wells in June 1945.

The Passacaglia is played between scenes in the second act; the theme depicts Grimes’ fall from grace and is repeated by bass instruments against variations played by the solo viola, which represents the apprentice – innocent, silent and fearful.

Sinfonia da Requiem was written ‘in a terrible hurry’ in 1940 while Britten was still in America. He wrote that it was ‘just as anti-war as possible’ and dedicated it to the memory of his parents; friends and loved ones living under threat in wartime England must have been in his mind as well.

First comes a slow marching lament with three motifs. Britten described the central movement as ‘a form of Dance of Death;’ it has a contrasting central section. The final Requiem Aeternum suggests a waves on a remote seashore and recalls a theme from the Lacrymosa movement.

The music of Arvo Part has only recently become widely know outside his native Estonia. Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten is scored for string orchestra and a single bell, and is based on a descending minor scale played simultaneously at three different speeds at the start. This was its first UK performance.

Part greatly regretted not having met Britten, for whose music, he had a deep regard and respect. He wrote that ‘I had just discovered Britten for myself and begun to appreciate the purity of his music.’

Norman Del Mar

The English conductor, teacher and writer Norman del Mar specialized in late romantic and English repertoire. He was frequently seen at the BBC Promenade Concerts and was Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 1960-65.

He conducted all the major British orchestras and was well-known throughout Europe, especially in Scandinavia. His writing includes a study of Richard Strauss and various books on conducting and the orchestra. He was awarded the CBE in 1975 and died in 1994.

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky

Gennadi Rozhdestvensky was born in Moscow in 1931, the son of two famous musicians. In 1951, following studies at the Moscow Conservatoire, he worked at the Bolshoi, where he conducted operas by Britten and Prokofiev; he was principal conductor of the Bolshoi from 1964 to 1970. His London debut was with the visiting Bolshoi Ballet in “The Sleeping Beauty” at Covent Garden in 1956. He was appointed chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1978 before leaving for Vienna in 1981.

The late Romantic and contemporary repertoire is of great interest to him, and he conducted a wide range of English music while he was with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Having made over 500 commercial recordings, he continues to conduct worldwide, to promote contemporary music and to teach, compose and to play piano duets with his wife Viktoria Postnikova. (Post-notes note: He died in 2018.)

TRACK LISTING:

Frank Bridge – Two Poems For Orchestra

  1. No. 1: Andante moderato e semplice – 7:45
  2. No. 2: Allegro con brio – 4:14

Benjamin Britten – Gloriana

  1. The Tournament – 3:53
  2. The Lute Song – 4:24
  3. The Country Dances – 9:20
  4. Gloriana Moritura – 6:47

Benjamin Britten – Passacaglia from ‘Peter Grimes’ – Opus 33b

  1. Passacaglia – (8:00)

Benjamin Britten – Sinfonia Da Requiem, Opus 20

  1. Lacrymosa – 8:03
  2. Dies irae – 4:52
  3. Requiem aeternam – 5:05

Arvo Part – Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten

  1. Cantus – 9:33

FINAL THOUGHT:

Discs like this one, curated “hits” attempting to pull together a theme (a tribute to Britten) are always kind of hard to write about. These are great recordings by really strong orchestras and legendary conductors. No complaints here – but also not much to say.

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company

Frank Bridge – The Complete String Quartets – Volume Two

Frank Bridge  (1879-1941)

String Quartet No. 2 in G Minor

String Quartet No. 4

Performed by: Brindisi String Quartet (Jacqueline Shave – Violin; Patrick Kiernan – Violin; Katie Wilkinson – Viola; Jonathan Tunnell – Cello).

Recorded at: St. Silas Church, Kentish Town, London – June 1991.

Recordings made with financial assistance from the Frank Bridge Trust.

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

While my Emily’s Music Dump music collection only has Volume 2 of the Complete Frank Bridge String Quartets (No.’s 2 and 4), I get a pretty good idea of all four based on this CD – and I like them – they’re lush with an undercurrent of sorrow (regardless of the muffled sound quality and poor production values).

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES – Anthony Payne – 1991.

Frank Bridge’s String Quartets

Bridge left what is arguably the most intensely personal and richly varied legacy of chamber music by any 20th-century British composer. His dialectical methods and civilized artistry were perfectly suited to the medium, and every step in his extraordinary stylistic development can be charted through his contributions to the medium.

The peak of this output is represented by the four string quartets, which encapsulate the four main stylistic periods into which his work can be seen to fall. They present a complete portrait of the composer in all his technical mastery and expressive daring.

The First Quartet, named the Bologna following its success there in a competition in 1906, is the composer’s first large-scale work of real identity, and it brings to a peak his early preoccupation with the string quartet medium, capitalizing on the experience gained from writing the Phantasy String Quartet (1905) and the two sets of salon pieces, Novelletten (1904) and Idylls (1906).

It is a work that tells us much about the newly emergent composer, an exceptionally adroit craftsman for a 25-year-old at this period in English music, yet also cautious in what he expects of his players and listeners. There is a revealing lack of those knotty incidents in melody and texture which would suggest the young composer coming to grips with an individual vision.

We can perhaps conclude that Bridge was the type of artist whose creative personality was initially founded on a natural gift for composition and a strong feeling for good taste, rather than on a burning sense of his own uniqueness as a human being. That was only to develop later.

Bridge’s skill was in advance of all his contemporaries at this time, but his first consideration was accessibility and practicality – admirable tenets. If harnessed to pressure of vision, but dangerous when given over-riding importance, compelling the composer to use familiar tags, explore well-charted emotional territories, and smooth all corners and edges.

In this way growth can be hindered, and it is not surprising that some saw the composer as ‘too professional’ in his methods. Luckily for his art, Bridge later developed a strong curiosity about styles and techniques outside his immediate world, and allowed his growing store of emotional experience to connect with his compositional mastery; but this is not prefigured in his early music.

Despite these considerations, however, the First Quartet is still an admirable achievement. The slow movement, a ‘song without words,’ and the gracious scherzo and trio are redolent of Bridge’s salon style, but the opening sonata structure announces the composer’s wider aims. It was a mistake, perhaps, to treat the easy-going second subject at length in the development prior to extending it even further during the recapitulation, but the evolution of new material by combining first- and second-subject motives marks a real structural achievement, and the spaciousness of the movement as a whole shows Bridge’s early sense of musical architecture.

This, rather than the invention of immediately memorable individual incidents, was always to be the main embodiment of his thought. Both the intervallic content of the opening theme, for example, and its rhythmic outline prove to be motivically fruitful, and already we find first-movement material clinching paragraphs in the third and fourth movements – a characteristic unifying process.

Bridge’s first mature chamber music masterpiece, the Second String Quarter (1915), still has ties with the past, perhaps because ideas for the work had germinated over a long period, or else because the medium encouraged him to rely on the well-tried methods of contrapuntal discourse which were linked to his previous style.

The chromatic language shows a considerable advance over that of the work’s predecessor, however, and if the opening subject is related in its smoothly flowing phrases and in the unclouded diatonicism of its top line to Bridge’s earlier manner, the tightly organized chromatic part-writing that supports it, while lacking the acute tensions of later years, marks a new complexity of thought.

There is still a tendency to make spacious and practically unvaried counterstatements – the first movement’s second subject is typical – but there is also a new inclination to develop and vary when repeating. Again, textures throughout the quartet are motivically saturated in a way that presages his late style, and thematic evolution and integration are developed to a new pitch. Thus, the insistent triplets of the scherzo’s main subject evolve new subsidiary themes which in their turn are transformed into the tenderly lyrical andante of the trio, while the finale remains unsurpassed for its preoccupation with by now familiar processes.

A wistful molto adagio preface which totally transforms the first movement’s second subject launches, in a moment of magical sonority, one of Bridge’s sonata arch-forms. All the principal themes can be traced back to previous material and the two main subjects are combined in counterpoint immediately before the final coda. This brilliant movement, with its unbroken flood of ideas varied by contrasting colors and textures, represents the kind of music Bridge must have been working towards for years, and the Second String Quartet as a whole can be accounted one of the composer’s finest achievements.

The first work to show Bridge’s late manner in full flight, all impurities filtered out, the implications of his recently framed ideas completely realized, is the Third String Quartet. Completed in 1926, this is music which approaches the world of the Second Viennese School in its radical procedures, while remaining utterly personal in tone.

The first movement’s first subject is typical of the kind of energetic lyricism in which the quartet abounds: the sense of linear growth is as strong as ever, but the subtle web of tensions which binds the dislocated phrases together is far removed from the old flowing cantabile, as is the way in which all 12 chromatic notes are kept in play.

In the vertical aspects of his textures, Bridge approaches a Schoenbergian pantonality, but the lack of semi-tonal dissonance in the chord-spacing and the tendency to select whole-tone and dominant formations gives an individual flavor. Harmonies of this kind are found in the middle-period works, but the speed with which they are now juxtaposed, and the freedom of the linear writing, dictate a totally different logic and create a new sound-world.

The harmonic texture is further extended by the introduction of less orthodox chord structures. The superimposition of tritones and fourths favored by the Viennese School becomes a new characteristic, as do tense Bartokian chords formed from interlocking major and minor thirds.

The structure of the quartet’s three movements shows an increasing richness and complexity of thought, and main material often appears after a period of assembly and preparation, as in the first movement’s slow introduction. Formally, the whole work is dominated by modifications of the sonata principle – arch-shaped in the first movement and with a rondo refrain in the finale. (It is indicative of the fertility of Bridge’s invention that the abundance of material in the finale still leaves room for additional development of the main first-movement themes.)

An examination of the micro-structure of the quartet reveals startling facts for an English work of the 1920s. Like Schoenberg before him, Bridge realized the significance of a pervasive motive working as a support for the developing argument in the absence of orthodox tonality. He extended the principle to the point of integrating vertical and horizontal aspects of the music, and tracing the motive connections between successive phrases and incidents in the work. One is irresistibly reminded of the tightly packed motive development in pre-12 note works by Schoenberg and Berg.

The elaborately figured and combative energy of the Third Quartet’s outer movements, and the sad, uneasy half-lights of its central intermezzo, inform much of the work of Bridge’s maturity, and the Fourth Quartet (1937), perhaps the peak of his writing in the oeuvre, resembles its predecessor in several respects.

There is a similar vein of lyrical energy, and the central movement is again a wistful intermezzo. But it is now in the finale that a slow introduction leads, via an assembly of motives, to a definitive thematic statement, and its rondo structure presses to a conclusion of hard-won optimism, contrasting with the melancholy into which the Third Quartet descends. In more general terms, the language has moved away from the expressionist richness of its predecessor: a more classical vision is outlined by the concentrated statements, concise transitions, and increase economy of texture.

At the same time, there is room enough for lyrical growth and the first movement’s second subject can afford counter-statements, albeit in varied forms, which remind us of Bridge’s early expansive vein. There is also space for the obligatory references to the first-movement material as the work closes.

In its harmonic world the Fourth Quartet is the most radical of all Bridge’s works, and its preoccupation with the more open intervals – fourths, fifths, major thirds and ninths – gives a new textural personality, uncomprisingly dissonant and bracing. The old obsession with the interlocking thirds has left its mark, but the composer’s harmonic resources are becoming increasingly wide-ranging, and the masterly way in which he saturates the texture of the finale with fifths, the interval of optimism and tonal orientation, using overtone structures to suggest a high norm of polytonal dissonance, typifies the new freedom.

The quartet’s opening sonata structure is far more concise than its counterpart in the Third Quartet, yet it manages to encompass as many changes of pace, mood and texture, welding and integrating them through the fierce heat and energy of its compressed processes. Plunging immediately into a maelstrom of gritty, motivic activity, it as quickly becomes subdued for a largamente transformation before launching out animatedly once more on transitional material.

The formal compression is made possible by the extreme concentration of the motive work and the tight developmental web of the texture. In common with the general terseness of thought, the working-out section proper is short and the recapitulation literal, apart from the omission of counterstatements and movements of expansion. This leaves the way clear for the coda to broaden the movement’s formal horizon, with two brief but unerringly judged processes – a further short development of first subject material and a tender postlude which neatly balances the largamente treatment of the first subject in the exposition by similarly transforming the second subject.

If the intermezzo opens in a wistful vein like that of its counterpart in the Third Quartet, the mood is soon broken up by lively bursts of grotesquerie. In fact, this quasi-menuetto, like much else in the work, is really without expressive precedent in Bridge’s music; in common with certain movements in the Viennese classical repertory it combined toughness of thought with an apparently capricious and divertimento-like manner.

The minuet and trio form, for instance, is enriched by sonata elements; there is the suggestion of a second subject in the main section, and the trio is a development of the first subject and introductory material, while the recapitulation omits the second subject but richly extends and contrapuntally works the first, including a reference to the first movement’s second subject.

Finally, a compressed structure is subtly opened out by the little semiquaver phrases that link many of the paragraphs, giving a sense of freedom and improvisatory leisure.

The finale is certainly one of Bridge’s finest achievements, a fitting conclusion technically and emotionally to a great work. Typically its rondo form is of the utmost simplicity: A-B-A-B-A, which allows the two principle subjects of the first movement to be worked into the transition to the final rondo statement without overburdening the structure. This brief return to the darker forces of the work’s opening renders the rondo theme’s final winging development the more impressive in its spiritual courage.

Brindisi String Quartet

The London-based Brindisi Quartet was formed at Aldeburgh in 1984.

Already an established name with listeners to BBC Radio 3, they are increasingly well known on the continent through their frequent overseas visits. Their growing reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting string quartets has led to many festival appearances, including Aldeburgh, where their close association resulted in a residency in 1990.

Whilst firmly rooted in the classical tradition, they are committed to exploring contemporary music and have had a number of works written for them by leading composers.

TRACK LISTING:

Frank Bridge – String Quartet No. 2 in G Minor

  1. Allegro ben moderato – 9:18
  2. Allegro vivo – andante con moto – 6:07
  3. Molto adagio – allegro vivace – 8:35

Frank Bridge – String Quartet No. 4

  1. Allegro energico – 10:32
  2. Quasi minuetto – 4:17
  3. Adagio ma non troppo – allegro con brio – 6:23

FINAL THOUGHT:

Alas, it appears the Brindisi String Quartet is no longer together (this recording was 30 years ago for Pete’s Sake!) – but at least we still have them rockin’ that 1986 photo! I wish the recording was better… recorded and not so muddled – and I really wish those liner notes above weren’t so long and BORING!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, STring Trios Opus 9, BBC Music Magazine, Beethoven String Trio of London, Tim Andrew, Malcolm Bruno, John Hadden, Ruth Waterman

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company

Glenn Branca – Symphony No. 9 (L’eve Future)

Glenn Branca  (1948-2018)

Symphony No. 9 (L’eve Future)

Free Form

Performed by: The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra & Camerata Silesia Singers Ensemble

Conducted by: Christian Von Borries

Recorded at the Concert Hall of the Polish National Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, Poland – October 1994.

Glenn Branca’s Symphony No. 9 was commissioned by Freunde Guter Music Berlin for their 10th anniversary. The first performance took place during the U.S. Arts Festival Berlin on July 13th, 1993, at the Parochialkirche by the Moravian Philharmonic conducted by Christian von Borries.

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Based on the notes entered below, I was expected a bat-shit crazy cacophony of crap – but when I listened to it for the first time in years, it comes across as a thoughtful (or thoughtless) droning of interconnected ideas.

A bullet-hole big as a harvest moon, tattered open, torn & bleeding in a royal blue metallic scrim of a sky limned lattice-like intricate nerve-grid. An unblinking iris, constant as consciousness, peers through the opening, silently rotating 360 degrees with imperceptible rhythmic precision. A distant hum undulating from distant horizons. The fibrillating murmur of ghosts and angels massed together in the shifting mist. 

The apocalypse is over. This is what comes after.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES – Tim Holmes, New York City, March 1995

L’eve Future. As it turns out, a pun.

At first, it intimates the precipice before tomorrow, a shadowy glimpse behind the veil, the night before the morning after. Read aloud, phonetically, it suggests the question: if, “in the late 20th century the im-possible becomes possible,” then we could we leave the future & go somewhere else instead?

All corners of the culture, from the pundits of Wired to the Speaker of the House, are screeching evangelist visions of a neo-biological high-tech global utopian hive. The planet itself is already shrouded in a crypto-neurological myelin sheath, the better to transmit pornography & “information” from PC to PC over the phone lines. The only thing standing between right-this second and no-reason -to-ever-leave-the-house is bandwidth.

[Before this rant spirals any further, the following disclaimer – 1):  Glenn Branca, an early and rabidly enthusiastic proponent of cyberpunk, cannot, by any stretch, be called tech-nophobic (he uses a computer as a compositional tool and has been interviewed by Mondo 2000).]

In order to make a tag like “genius” stick, the following must be in place: 1) you gotta invent (or “discover”) something; 2) the influence of the work must extend beyond genre and / or field of endeavor (i.e., you don’t have to be a scientist to be affected by Thomas Edison, you don’t even have to know who he was; 3) genius affects history & is (preferably) unpredictable.

Glenn Branca is arguably, if not irrefutably, the first human since Jimi Hendrix (who I’m still not convinced was not some kind of extraterrestrial) to do something radically new with electric guitar.

Uncovering the harmonic series woven into Nature, he created tuning systems & built instruments to amplify these complex mathematical truths, assembled electric guitar orchestras, structured the pieces in classical symphonic forms, & troweled on the overtones so loud & thick & dense that the roaring cascades of pure sound whorled and whoomed with mushroom cloud wind-tunnel ferocity, every molecule saturated zig-zag harmonics colliding pinwheels like atom-smashing acceleration chamber in every cilia & it felt like the DNA double helixes were being ripped apart, nerve cells erupting in ecstasis des and don’t think for two seconds that these all-too-rare performances didn’t leave an indelible imprint on the future of electric music & apprentices in acoustic phenomena…

And now, I’m gonna roller blade out on a big limb & announce my belief that Symphony No. 9 is the most drastic work in the Branca canon.

For it is here, in the 9th (traditionally, from Beethoven to Mahler, the most mystical of symphonic #’s, the one that foretells death & the afterlife: Glenn’s already written, recorded, & performed his 10th so he’s beaten the jinx & broken another tradition) that Glenn Branca, of all composers, breaks Josef Haydn’s “Sonata For Orchestra” routine (even Branca’s guitar symphonies have “movements”), collapsing the original symphonic functions of prelude, interlude, and postlude into an undulating extended moment (a split-second in eternity unfolding over the course of approximately 50 minutes) of impossible contradictions at once expanding & contracting, ascending & descending, accelerating & decelerating, intervallic contrapuntal modules overlapping & splitting with the organic elegance & inevitability of mitosis on an intergalactic scale, sublime, enigmatic, and divine.

In 1983, I was playing guitar with Glenn on a chaotic North American Club & Arthouse Tour. Right before we went on in Boston, a woman in her sixties (whose name I couldn’t remember if you offered me a thousands dollars, although for that kind of money I’d like & make something up) came backstage & introduced herself as an old college chum of my mother’s.

Now this woman had no idea who Glenn Branca was & she certainly wasn’t a rock & roll person & basically she was somebody who knew me from the family Xmas cards, & she was a spy sent by mom to report back whether I was getting enough to eat & that kind of thing. “I can only stay a minute,” she explained because her husband was waiting outside in the car & they were going to dinner, but she was gonna see what we all looked like on-stage.

So, the Glenn Branca Ensemble came out & performed “Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses,” the piece that had John Cage frothing to journalists about what horrible fascist music Glenn was writing & if this was the future, then he sure as hell didn’t want to live there.

To make a long story interminable, we finished the 50 minute piece that begins with a series of guitar overtones & builds to insane crescendos of skull-melting bone-shattering volume & when I came off-stage, the friend of my mother’s still there with her mouth hanging open & this look of post-orgiastic religious after glow in her eyes & I said, “Isn’t your husband outside?” & this look of horror broke through the trance & she sputtered “Omigod, that’s right!” & ran out the door.

I break into this anecdote to make a couple of points. It was then that I realized that people who knew how to listen to music were perfectly capable of “getting” what Glenn was up to, & I also think that what is so heartbreakingly subtle in “L’eve Future” is a quality underlying every piece he’s ever written (at least every piece I’ve ever heard that’s he’s written).

After a lot of Glenn’s performances, people report various kinds of Gnostic sonic visitations, phantom sounds that mysteriously appear in the music chimes, keyboards, horns, choral effects of vast proportions.

In his 9th Symphony, Glenn Branca has literally scored those voices: the piece has, in some sense, hundreds of movements playing off one another, the way the harmonics used to, to create a totality of monumental proportions.

Listening to a tape of “L’eve Future” in my office, a co-worker (who happens to be familiar with Glenn’s work & reputation as a gris eminence to a whole generation of rock-kids) said the music was both “sad” and “scary.” I maintained that Symphony No. 9 was, in a way, (disclaimer 2) what Glenn’s music had always been underneath it all.

Music, unlike any other human endeavor, creates its own temporality. Unlike life, its transience is internal, an illusion, generated by the duration the listener’s experience. Unlike language, music can only exist in an eternal present tense: the verb is the prism of language, there are no verbs in music.

In Glenn Branca’s Symphony No. 9, the uncanny simultaneous tension & repose of the music blending wordless choral lines and the instrumental arrangements suggest, without ever stating, openings and closings all at once.

I once suggested to Glenn – a guy who once told me, during a five-and-a-half-hour discussion of the True Construct of Reality, that he really liked reading Nietzsche because he’d finally found someone who was maybe smarter than he was – (Disclaimer 3) that God wrote the music (the Amadeus theory) which, of course, led to an extremely convoluted (on both parts) theological debate, & if “God” bugs you just substitute Nature, although I find it hard to completely swallow the idea that a True Atheist would write a prayer as profound & detailed & rigorous & passionate & beautiful as “L’eve Future,” which sounds like, among a thousand other things that’ve never been written, as elegy for the 21st Century on the occasion of its passing.

“L’eve Future” literally occurs somewhere outside time, a place beyond the eternal. And, when its over, without warning, it simply stops…

Christian von Borries was solo flute at the Opernhaus Zurich when he decided to start conducting. He studied with Gerhard Samuel in Cincinnati and Nicolaus Harnoncourt in Salzburg: he also consulted Carlos Kleiber. Since then, Christian von Borries is working free lance. He conducted first and created performances of Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg, and Berg. He is also active with conceptual concert series and radio happenings.

TRACK LISTING:

Glenn Branca

  1. Symphony No. 9 (L’eve Future) – 47:15
  2. Freeform – 11:43

Shockingly, I could not find a performance of Glenn Branca’s Symphony No. 9 on the internet… at all… anywhere. So here is an interesting interview he gave a few years before his death – and I threw in a performance of the insane Symphony No. 16. 

FINAL THOUGHT:

I mean, not much more to add – other than, what the hell are those liner notes? I’m not sure I understand any of it other than Glenn Branca seemed to believe he was the smartest person every – except for Nietzsche – which can be interpreted as… disturbing.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Hector Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique, Riccardo Muti, Philadelphia Orchestra, John Willan, Michael Sheady, Fussli, James Agate, Hippolyte Chelard, Richard Wagner, Mozart, Haydn, James Harding, Rossini, Felix Mendelssohn, Theophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Delacroix, Beethoven, Hummel

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company

Brahms – Sonatas For Piano And Violin, Opus 78 – 100 – 108

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Sonatas For Piano And Violin:

Sonata in G Major, Opus 78

Sonata in A Major, Opus 100

Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108

Scherzo in C Minor, WoO posthum 2 (1853)

Performed by:

Yefim Bronfman (Piano)

Isaac Stern (Violin)

Recorded live at the Great Hall at the Bolshoi Philharmonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, December 18 & 19, 1991.

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Yeah, man, you know, are you really going to find anything better than this? (I know… anything is possible but it will be a long search.)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES – 1993 – Ekkehart Kroher (Translation Diana Loos):

“I am staying in Kamten again, at Portschach am See (railway-station Maria-Worth). It would be really lovely if you could direct your steps this time to my direction; our nest here is only a friendly stop on the way, but from here you can take the most delightful trips, to the Ampezzo valley, Grossglockner, Fusch, etc.”

These words, written by Johannes Brahms in June 1879 to his friend Adolf Schubring, a writer on musical subjects, were typical of the composer in a double sense. On the one hand, he loved the presence or the company of familiar friends even during his summer vacation, and on the other, he always chose places of particular natural beauty for his holidays.

Brahms loved the countryside and being surrounded by nature which acted as a stimulus for him and where he could “go for walks” with his musical ideas, as he called it. Therefore it is not surprising that in the summer months the majority of his loveliest Lieder and instrumental compositions were written.

As early as 1877, when he was in Portschach for the first time, he had written to his friend the Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick: ‘Lake Worth is virgin country, the air is so full of melodies that one must be careful not to step on one…’

The same applies to the summers following, in which not only Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major was written (1878), but also the First Violin Sontata in G Major, Opus 78, which was finished in the summer of 1879, also in Portschach. Whether this G Major Sonata was really Brahms’ first violin sonata can, however,  no longer be exactly established. Much evidence seems to indicate that it had at least three predecessors, but these, like other early compositions of Brahms, fell victim to the relentless self-criticism of his genius.

With the Violin Sonata in G Major, however, Brahms realized a novel concept of sonata form. It is not so much the integration of variations into the principles of dialectic form which is meant by this – Arnold Schoenberg was to be the first to recognize the forward-looking tendency of this integration – but rather the conceptual unity of the three movements based on a dotted rhythm motif.

The dotted rhythm appears at the beginnings of the opening Vivace ma non troppo and the Allegro molto moderato Finale which quotes the theme of the ‘Regenlied’ Opus 59, No.3 (based on a poem by Klaus Groth); the dotted rhythm also characterizes the Adagio middle section thereby establishing a connection between movements.

Thus the Finale unfolds almost by itself, for the quotation from ‘Regenlied’ which was set to music in 1873 (‘Surge, rain, surge down, awake once more the dreams in me which I dreamed as a child…’) is in both contexts the expression of contemplative, almost nostalgic reminiscence.

But as if that were not enough, Brahms brings back the cantabile Adagio idea, slightly changed, as the second couplet in the Rondo Finale and thus enriches the final movement with a restrained warmth and a wishful tenderness which make the music ‘seem to smile through its tears,’ to quote Karl Geiringer.

Intimacy, though of quite a different kind, can also be heard in the Second Violin Sonata in A Major, Opus 100, which Brahms composed in 1886 in Hofstetten near Thun on Lake Thun. It was apparently written ‘while expecting the arrival of a dear friend,’ namely the young alto Hermine Spies, whom Brahms had heard for the first time in 1883 as the soloist in his Alto Rhapsody.

How deep his feelings were for the singer, in artistic and in human terms, is shown not only by the abundance of his Lied production in the subsequent years but also in the A Major Sonata for Piano and Violin.  In composing this sonata Brahms must have spent a lot of time deep in thought about her, whom he admired to the point of adoration, which explains the serene basic mood of the music almost without further comment being necessary.

Further comment is also hardly necessary to explain the use of several melodic phrases from the setting of Klaus Groth’s ‘Komm bald’ (Come soon) Opus 97 No. 5 in the opening Allegro amabile, into which the musician also wove the opening motif of his Lied ‘Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn’ (Like melodies running gently through my mind), Opus 105, No. 1, as second subject.

For the middle movement Brahms here combines the slow movement and scherzo into an Andante tranquillo in five sections, in which a tender opening idea alternates several times with a buoyantly contrasting Vivace. The final word in the sonata belongs to an Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) in allabreve time, a broadly pulsating Rondo finale, in which the piano adds chromatically contemplative notes to the flowing cantabile character of the movement, without, however, seriously affecting the basically relaxed mood.

The Third Violin Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108, was also written in the summer of 1886 on Lake Thun, but it was not definitively completed until 1888. This sonata was also published a year later under the title ‘Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin,’ not the other way round, but which means Brahms wished to indicate the fact that both instruments are treated on equal terms.

This was particularly important in the case of the D Minor Sonata, since it replaces the intimacy of its predecessors with a concertante approach, which would otherwise have been misunderstood. For here the piano part also lays claims to virtuosity and leads to the assumption that during the composition of the work Brahms was already thinking of his friend, the pianist and conductor Hans von Bulow, to whom he did in fact dedicate this Opus 108.

The virtuosity of its character also explains the four-movement form of the sonata, which is filled with passionate, almost dramatic impetus.  This evolves in the introductory Allegro in traditional sonata form, but with an unorthodox development section, which combines the bariolage technique of the violin with an insistent pedal point from the piano, the left hand of which plays an uninterrupted A for 46 bars.

An expressively sensitive Adagio in D Major and a strangely pallid, almost gloomy Scherzo in F Sharp Minor create a strongly contrasting pair of inner movements, which, however, in the cycle construction of the work function merely as an intermezzo.

For the Finale turns out to be not only the point towards which the work is directed, but in fact the true center of the work, the significance of which Brahms emphasized by the unusual length – 337 bars – and the choice of sonata form.

The tempestuousness of the passionato character of this Presto agitato are hardly affected by occasional episodes and indicate an inner tension which does not diminish into the very last bar.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Sonata in G Major, Opus 78

  1. Vivace ma non troppo – 10:11
  2. Adagio – 7:20
  3. Allegro molto moderato – 8:29

Johannes Brahms – Sonata in A Major, Opus 100

  1. Allegro amabile – 7:57
  2. Andante tranquillo – Vivace – 6:25
  3. Allegretto grazioso (quasi Andante) – 5:33

Johannes Brahms – Sonata in D Minor, Opus 108

  1. Allegro – 7:44
  2. Adagio – 4:34
  3. Un poco presto e con sentimento – 2:47
  4. Presto agitato – 5:51

Johannes Brahms – Scherzo in C Minor, WoO posthum 2 (1853)

  1. Allegro – 5:46

FINAL THOUGHT:

Just an all-time classic recording from two all-time classic musicians interpreting the work of an all-time classic composer – live without a net!

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Brahms – Violin Concerto; Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 8

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, In D Major, Opus 77

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 -1827)

Sonata for Violin and Piano No 8, in G Major, Opus 30 / 3

Performed by:

Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra

Conductor: Gennadij Roshdestvensku

David Oistrakh (Violin)

Lev Oborin (Piano)

Historical Recording dates: 1972 (Brahms) and 1960 (Beethoven)

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

I mean, I don’t know, these are fine historical Soviet recordings but seem pretty cold (war) – maybe it’s because of the time – Leningrad Orchestra in the 1960s and 1970s.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES:

The brilliant violinist David Oistrakh, born in Odessa on September 30, 1908, and died in Amsterdam on October 24, 1974, was a pupil of the teacher Stoliarski, who also contributed to the training of Nathan Milstein.

In 1926, Oistrakh gave his first performance in Odessa and in 1937 was awarded first prize at the Eugene Ysa of Belgium Competition.

He achieved success at a very early age. The international public was overwhelmed by this young man who possessed such skill that he was able to overcome every technical difficulty with the greatest east by conveying the violin’s melody in a beautiful and profound way.

The nobility, sincerity and fidelity of the style of ‘King David’ (as he was soon called) were outstanding from an early age. Oistrakh played a violin made by Stradivarious in 1706. He was the person to whom the two Violin Concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich, Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano by Sergey Prokofiev and the respective Concertos by Khachaturian and Kabalevsky, were dedicated.

The pianist Lev Oborin was born in Moscow on September 11, 1907, and died in Moscow on January 5, 1974. His teachers were Elena Gnesina and Konstantin Igumnov.

In 1927, he was awarded the Chopin Prize at the first Warsaw Competition and the following year, he took up the post of Professor of Piano at the Moscow Conservatoire. There he taught, amongst others, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Ekaterina Noitskaya. Under Oborin they extended the analytical restraint of their expression and exquisite legato.

Both instrumentalists play together frequently and, accompanied by the violinist Svjatoslav Knuschevitsky (Petrovsk, 1908 – Moscow, 1963), they form a wonderful trio which will always remain in the annals of Russian musical history.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Concerto For Violin And Orchestra, in D Major, Opus 77

  1. Allegro non troppo – 22:37
  2. Adagio – 9:19
  3. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace – 8:29

Ludwig Van Beethoven – Sonata For Violin And Piano No. 8, in G Major, Opus 30 / 3

  1. Allegro assai – 6:41
  2. Tempo di menuetto, ma molto moderato e grazioso – 8:46
  3. Allegro vivace – 3:37

FINAL THOUGHT:

This Leningrad Masters disc issued in the early-1990s from the Soviet Archives is not very well mastered and is definitely not the cleanest recording – but the performers are in top form – even though, as I said up top, it left me a little cold.

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Brahms – Clarinet Sonatas, Opus 120 / 1-2

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Clarinet Sonata, Opus 120 / 1

Clarinet Sonata, Opus 120 / 2

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Six Studies In English Folksong

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

Duo Concertant

Performed by:

Jonathan Cohler (Clarinet); Judith Gordon and Randall Hodgkinson (Pianos)

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Jonathan Cohler is definitely the go-to American Clarinetist for Brahms, Vaughan Williams and Milhaud chamber music.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (Adrian Jack, 1994):

When Brahms first heard the clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld play, he had not written anything for a year. Muhlfeld must have made a big impression – for Brahms wrote a trio and a quintet for him immediately, in 1891, and two sonatas three years later.

He accompanied Muhlfeld himself in the first performances of the sonatas, and gave him his own performing fees whenever they played the works together subsequently; he also granted Mulfeld all the performing rights fees in his lifetime.

Both sonatas really put the clarinet through its paces, but the First is perhaps more varied as well as more dramatic than the Second. The Second has its own mellow appeal, though it packs power into its central movement and the closing pages of its Finale.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College, Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Julliard String Quarter, Walter Trampler Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, Charles Harbutt, Clara Schumann, Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Liszt, Joseph Joachim, Elliott Carter, Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Fritz Simrock, Shakespeare, Tennyson, August Bungert, Bruce Adolphe, Billy Rothchild, Robert Wolff, Todd Whitelock, Joos de Momper, Roxanne Simak

Brahms also made alternative versions of the sonatas, for violin and viola. The viola versions are considered more satisfying and leave the piano parts unaltered; nevertheless, Brahms‘ great friend Joseph Joachim, who disliked arrangements as a rule, played the violin version of these sonatas many times.

Vaughan Williams originally wrote his Six Studies in English Folksong in 1925 for cello and piano. They were published with alternative parts for violin, viola or clarinet!

They are less like studies than reveries, and they are based very freely on existing songs.

Darius Milhaud was such a prolific composer he would not have been out of place in the 18th century, when composers wrote music to be used immediately rather than as a passport to immortality.

His Duo Concertant has the the impressive opus number of 351. He wrote it early in 1956 for the professor of clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire, though it has nothing of the academic about it.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Sonata In F Minor, Opus 120 / 1

  1. Allegro appassianato – 8:04
  2. Andante, un poco adagio – 5:11
  3. Allegreto graziosa – 4:19
  4. Vivace – 4:59

Johannes Brahms – Sonata In E-Flat, Opus 120 / 2

  1. Allegro amabile – 8:21
  2. Allegro, molto appassianato – 5:23
  3. Andante con moto – Allegro – 7:05

Vaughan Williams – Six Studies In English Folksong – 7:43

Milhaud – Duo Concertant – 6:24

FINAL THOUGHT:

I do love Brahms chamber music – and this a great sampling of virtuoso clarinet at its finest. And Mr. Cohler is quite the artist. Highly recommended for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Glenn Gould, Beethoven, Ludwig Van Beethoven, 3 last sonatas, Charles Rosen, Marc Vignal, Robert Cushman, Antonie Brentano, Maynard Salomon, Archduke Rudolph, Maximiliane Brentano, Schubert, Haydn

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

Brahms – The String Quintets

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Julliard String Quarter, Walter Trampler Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, Charles Harbutt, Clara Schumann, Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Liszt, Joseph Joachim, Elliott Carter, Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Fritz Simrock, Shakespeare, Tennyson, August Bungert, Bruce Adolphe, Billy Rothchild, Robert Wolff, Todd Whitelock, Joos de Momper, Roxanne Simak

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

The String Quintets

Quintet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 88

Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111

Produced by Gary Schultz

Recording Engineer: Charles Harbutt

Julliard String Quartet (Robert Mann & Joel Smirnoff, Violins; Samuel Rhodes, Viola; Joel Krosnick, Cello) & Walter Trampler, Viola

Recording Location: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY, May 15-17, 1995.

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

These rarely-played chamber gems get the “Julliard” treatment to gorgeous effect but… actually, well-played doesn’t mean… exciting.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (Bruce Adophe, 1996):

Fifty years ago, in 1946, the Julliard String Quartet was formed by the 26-year-old Robert Mann, fresh out of the Army. Fifty years before that, in 1896, the 63-year-old Johannes Brahms, despondent over the recent death of Clara Schumann, composed Four Serious Songs (Op. 121) and Eleven Chorale Preludes (Op. 122).

Brahms, who died at 64, lived almost into the twentieth century. Although typecast as a forever-bearded Romantic god trapped in a remote pantheon called “The Three B’s,” the real Johannes Brahms was only a grandfather away from the generation that founded the original Julliard String Quartet.

Brahms is known to have said, “If we cannot write as beautifully as Mozart and Haydn, let us at least write as purely.” The comment discloses Brahms’ neoclassical bent and surely would have been taken as an anti-Wagner, anti-Liszt sentiment.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College, Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Julliard String Quarter, Walter Trampler Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, Charles Harbutt, Clara Schumann, Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Liszt, Joseph Joachim, Elliott Carter, Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Fritz Simrock, Shakespeare, Tennyson, August Bungert, Bruce Adolphe, Billy Rothchild, Robert Wolff, Todd Whitelock, Joos de Momper, Roxanne Simak

Liszt’s music was so utterly disliked by Brahms and Joseph Joachim (the great violinists who was the composer’s lifelong champion and sometime friend) that they used the word “lisztisch” to mean “damnable” in their letters.

In his String Quintet in F Major, Op. 88, composed in 1882, Brahms achieves a purity of form, voice-leading and counterpoint, which heralds a master composer in his maturity. The quintet opens with luminous nobility.

This quite soon gives way to a radiant, more intimate theme (related by the viola) clothed in a new key and a stunning new texture which no one but Brahms ever dreamed of: each instrument has its own special light – cello and second violin play pizzicato, but the cello divides the measure in two while the second violin plucks in six; the first violin plays eight notes to the bar while the first viola plays the tune in syncopated sixes; the remaining viola plays a counter-melody in four.

This kind of innovative rhythmic and textural design is a blueprint for much music of our century, suggesting even the polyrhythmic configurations of Elliott Carter (whose quartets the Julliard String Quartet has recorded). But the intricate musical web vanishes – before its complexity can register in the mind – into a simpler heartbeat patter, full of yearning.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

The musical purity Brahms reverered is now clearly manifested as he explores these textures throughout the movement with mastery and deep feeling.

The dark, strring Grave ed oppassionato has enough solid mass to warrant an entire movement, yet Brahms employs it as a standard by which to discover the specific gravity of an Allegretto vivaco and a Presto.

These startling juxtapositions – and their subtle harmonic interrelatedness – seem to have been inspired by Beethoven, who, especially in his late string quartets, discovered uncharted areas of human expression through the investigation of extreme contrast. The underlying metaphor is that of our ultimate aloneness (Grave) in the midst of the busy world (Allegretto vivace and Presto).

The Beethoven connection can also be heard in the finale, which opens with two abrupt, stabbing chords in the manner of Beethoven’s string quartets Op. 59, No. 2, and the third movement of Op. 131.

Following the Beethovenian path still further, Brahms unfolds an uplifting fugue, announcing each entrance with those knifelike chords. Beethoven would not have rolled over but rather sat up straight (both images are problematic!) upon hearing Brahms’ tribute.

While the integration of fugue into sonata form conjures up Beethoven, fugal writing itself summons the spirit of Bach. When Brahms died, Joachim told the Neuen Freien Presse, “On the topmost peak stands Bach, the all-powerful, the incomparable, the creator, the great beginning. Mozart follows as the originator of new forms of beauty, and then comes – Brahms.”

The interviewer asked, “And Beethoven?” Joachim then firmly placed Brahms ahead of Beethoven.

In 1996 – as the new millennium approaches – we can understand the anxiety and exhilaration, the astounded concurrence of old and new, which accompanied the turn of the last century.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College, Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Julliard String Quarter, Walter Trampler Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, Charles Harbutt, Clara Schumann, Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Liszt, Joseph Joachim, Elliott Carter, Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Fritz Simrock, Shakespeare, Tennyson, August Bungert, Bruce Adolphe, Billy Rothchild, Robert Wolff, Todd Whitelock, Joos de Momper, Roxanne Simak

Claude Debussy, the prophet and pilot of musical modernism, was twenty-eight years old when, in 1890, Brahms composed the Quintet in G Major, Op. 111. It was the year that the Manhattan Building, the first entirely steel-frame building in the world, was erected in Chicago. At sixteen stories, it was (briefly) the world’s tallest building, earning the nickname “Hercules.”

Feeling the shifting winds, Brahms included a message with the manuscript of the quintet when he sent it to his publisher, Fritz Simrock: “With this letter you can bid farewell to my music – because it is certainly time to leave off…”

But the flowing Herculean architecture of Brahms’ Op. 111 Quintet will surely outlast Chicago’s steel-framed edifices. In fact, far from giving the impression that its composer might soon retire, the opening of the G-Major Quintet explodes into existence with a skyscraper of a first theme in the cello, set against a tempest in the remaining four instruments.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College, Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Julliard String Quarter, Walter Trampler Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, Samuel Rhodes, Joel Krosnick, Charles Harbutt, Clara Schumann, Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Liszt, Joseph Joachim, Elliott Carter, Beethoven, Claude Debussy, Fritz Simrock, Shakespeare, Tennyson, August Bungert, Bruce Adolphe, Billy Rothchild, Robert Wolff, Todd Whitelock, Joos de Momper, Roxanne Simak

Brahms considered rewriting this opening passage to decrease the risk of the solo cello being drowned out. A draft exists in which the upper strings alternate their activity with rests, cutting the massive texture in half. The composer quickly returned to the original conception of the work, deciding that the rewrite sounded flimsy.

Brahms did not always want cellists to be heard, however. In a now famous story, Brahms was playing his own F-Major Cello Sonata with an unsatisfactory partner. The composer let loose at the piano with an enormous fortissimo, causing the cellist to shout over the music, “Maestro, I can’t hear myself at all,” to which Brahms countered, “Lucky for you!”

Brahms loved a full sound and was renowned for his rich, massive tone on the piano. The Julliard Quartet’s Robert Mann remembers a story once told by a musician whose father, many years earlier, had taken him to hear Brahms play his F-Minor Piano Quintet. The boy’s father leaned over just before the music started and whispered to his son, “Listen well to the strings in the opening unison passage because that will be the last time you can hear them at all!”

A friend of Brahms suggested to the composer that the high spirits in the Op. 111 Quintet may have been partially inspired by a public park in Vienna, known as the Prater. “You guessed it!” answered Brahms. “And the delightful girls there.” 

If Brahms meant this last comment seriously, he would probably have been referring to the graceful second theme in the first movement, which beings in the violas and is soon passed to the violins – it is as fetching and enchanting a melody as any ever composed.

Brahms professed that his beautiful themes came to him in “instantaneous flashes,” which “quickly vanished,” sometimes before he could capture them on paper. He believed that “the themes that will endure in my music all appear to me in this way.”

Brahms did not mean that he was unconscious when composing, but that he experienced what he called a “semi-trance condition.” Explaining this concept to Joachim, Brahms stated, “You must realized that Milton, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Bach and Beethoven never wholly lost consciousness when they entered that border state.”

Of his own semi-trances, Brahms explained, “I always have a definite purpose in view before invoking the Muse and entering into such a mood.” Brahms decried music which did not achieve a balance between the spirtual and the intellectual plains.

He criticized, for example, the composer August Bungert, whose work was immensely popular throughout Europe in the 1890s, for composing only with the conscious mind.

Brahms predicted such music would soon “go into oblivion.” (He seems to have been coorect so far, although an unexpected Bungert festival is always a possibility given the current craze for thematic programming.)

There is certainly no shortage of inspired, entrancing melody in this quintet. In the Adagio, Brahms unveils another jewel – a sweet, sorrowful melody which abides sublimely on the first viola before the first violin appropriates it permanently.

The violin reveals three tragic visions of the theme (as opposed to the viola’s one). The viola makes a moving, cadenza-like plea towards the movements close, but the violins retain the poignant theme for a fourth and final utterance.

The Un poco allegretto ushers in another heart-stoppingly beautiful tune, this one quality prevails, giving way now and then to momentary disquiet. Here, and throughout this quintet, we find the Brahms so admired by Schoenberg for his ability to fully explore the complexity of a seemingly simple idea.

The five instruments are intricately engaged in imitative counterpoint that is rich without excess, at once elegant and luxurious.

The first viola seems to get an idea for the finale which the other instruments quickly realize is a good one. The Vivace ma non troppo presto takes the listener on a thrilling ride through the Hungarian countryside. It may seem  brief, but you’ll find it is just the right length if you try dancing to it (which you’ll want to do).

By the way, it turns out that Brahms did not give up composing quite as soon as he had expected. Soon after completing this quintet, he heard the clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld play and suddenly found himself once again teeming with ideas, burning to compose.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Quintet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 88

  1. Allegro non troppo ma con brio – 11:19
  2. Grave ed appassionato – Allegretto vivace Tempo 1 – Presto – Tempo 1 – 10:53
  3. Allegro energico – Presto – 5:32

Johannes Brahms – Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111

  1. Allegro non troppo, ma con brio – 12:48
  2. Adagio – 6:26
  3. Un poco allegretto – 6:13
  4. Vivace ma non troppo presto – 5:00

 

FINAL THOUGHT:

Normally, Brahms’ chamber music is a can’t-miss-bing-bang-bong success. But after listening to this disc… all I feel is… meh. The answer is ‘meh.’ Not terrible, it’s fine… but… ‘meh.’

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

Brahms – Sonatas For Cello And Piano, Op. 38 and Op. 99

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Cello Sonatas, Yo-Yo Man, Emanuel Ax, Jay David Saks, Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey, J.J. Stelmach, Dr. Joseph Gansbacher, Bernard Jacobson, Mahler, Robert Hausmann

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Sonatas For Cello and Piano

Sonata In E Minor, Op. 38

Sonata in F Major, Op. 99

Produced by Jay David Saks

Yo-Yo Ma – Cello

Emanuel Ax – Piano

Recording Date: February 4 & 5, 1985

Recording Location: RCA Studio A, New York City

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Yeah, um, no – there is nothing to say other than Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax play Brahms.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Cello Sonatas, Yo-Yo Man, Emanuel Ax, Jay David Saks, Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey, J.J. Stelmach, Dr. Joseph Gansbacher, Bernard Jacobson, Mahler, Robert Hausmann

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (Bernard Jacobson, 1985):

Opus 38 is not merely the first of Brahms’ cello sonatas: it was the first sonata he published for piano with any other instrument. The three surviving violin sonatas came much later and the two for clarinet later still.

Apart from early essays that the fiercely self-critical composer destroyed, including a duet for cello and piano that he played in public when he was 18, the E minor sonata’s only partial predecessor was the C minor scherzo (or Sonatensatz) he contributed in 1853 to a composite sonata written jointly with Schumann and Albert Dietrich as a tribute to the great violinist Joseph Joachim.

If you think about the character of Brahms’ music throughout his life, and in particular about the qualities of color and texture that make it unmistakably Brahms, it is not surprising that, in 1865, he should have approached the chamber-sonata medium through the cello.

The idea that Brahms was indifferent to instrumental color is a misapprehension. The truth is, surely, that he was relatively uninterested in the more obvious and dazzling instrumental effects.

Consider, for instance, his extraordinary use of the piccolo in the Tragic Overture. This usually obstreperous instrument appears in only 15 of the work’s 429 measures – and then exclusively in mysterious pianissimo.

Rather than brilliance, it was warmth of tone that attracted Brahms. And thus it is the clarinet and the horn that he most favors among the woodwind and brass families, and the cello among the strings. In all four symphonies some of the most memorable string effects are those entrusted to the cellos.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Cello Sonatas, Yo-Yo Man, Emanuel Ax, Jay David Saks, Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey, J.J. Stelmach, Dr. Joseph Gansbacher, Bernard Jacobson, Mahler, Robert Hausmann

Then there are notable solo passages like those in the slow movement of the Second Piano Concerto, not to mention the wonderfully idiomatic handling of the cello in the Double Concerto, where it not only shares the limelight with the traditionally more extrovert violin but often takes the leading role in thematic exposition.

Following this line of thought, we find also that nobody, probably, has ever written a more cello-ish cello sonata than Brahms’ E minor. Through the entire length of the work (written for and dedicated to his friend Dr. Joseph Gansbacher) it is the special dark, introspective quality of the instrument that is stressed.

The very first theme exploits its ability to sing a sonorous melody in the lowest register, and at no point in the three movements does the pitch of the cello writing rise high enough to demand the use of the treble clef.

Tone color aside, the E minor sonata is Brahmsian also in reflecting its composer’s Janus-like relation to music history. Brahms faced equally in two directions: toward the past, and toward the future.

Much of his influence on later music derives from the linear and rhythmic freedom of his style, which was to have an effect at least as far reaching as – and arguably healthier than – that of Wagner’s innovations in the harmonic sphere. But Brahms’ liberation of line and pulse, though new to the 19th century, stems from his enthusiasm for the music of a much more distant past, going back to the time of Palestrina and indeed beyond that to the earliest origins of German song.

With all its freshness of expression, this sonata has a certain almost self-consciously old-fashioned air. In the first movement, it is to be found in the unhurried deployment of traditional sonata-form elements, and, more intangibly, in the kind of legendary, “far away and long ago” feeling to the actual cut of the themes.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Cello Sonatas, Yo-Yo Man, Emanuel Ax, Jay David Saks, Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey, J.J. Stelmach, Dr. Joseph Gansbacher, Bernard Jacobson, Mahler, Robert Hausmann

The other two movements are more specifically historical in reference, the one recalling the minuet style, the other adopting fugal patterns, and the two together constituting a pair of genre pieces evocative of the baroque sonata or suite.

Yet, even here, the backward look is closely related to a forward influence. It is movements like this quasi-minuet that furnish the clearest link between Mahler’s folkish Knaben Wunderhorn vein and its medieval antecedents, and indeed the contrast of idioms between Brahms’ first two movements suggests a peaceable juxtaposition of past with present and future styles much like that of the corresponding movements in Mahler’s Second Symphony.

As Brahms matured, he turned away from formal displays of fugal erudition like those in the E minor sonata’s finale, the Handel Variations for piano and German Requiem, and instead began to fuse the forms and harmonies of his sonata style more intimately with its contrapuntal elements.

Certainly the finale of the F major cello sonata, written in his Swiss summer retreat at Thun in 1886, wears its learning more lightly than its youthful predecessor. But formidably learned this sonata still is, whether in the polyphonic play and pitting of three groups against duple meter in the finale, or in the subtle rhythmic elisions of the scherzo, or in the piano’s breathtaking pp dolce augmentation of the main theme just before the end of the first movement’s development section.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Classical Music, Johannes Brahms, Cello Sonatas, Yo-Yo Man, Emanuel Ax, Jay David Saks, Paul Goodman, Thomas MacCluskey, J.J. Stelmach, Dr. Joseph Gansbacher, Bernard Jacobson, Mahler, Robert Hausmann

It is not so much learning, however, as passion that strikes the listener first in this deceptively youthful music. The very beginning of the Allegro vivace immediately proclaims the contrast with the E minor sonata: here all is full-blooded romanticism, felt in the constant tumultuous undermining of the movement’s official 3/4 pulse, and articulated as early as the seventh and eighth measures by the devil-may-care leap to the cello’s topmost register.

If the older Brahms tended more and more to moderation, this sonata is a glorious exception, as the “vivace,” “passionata” and “molto” of its movement-headings already suggest. Perhaps, as in the Double Concerto written the following year, it was the return to his old love of the cello combined with the inspiration provided by the gifted young cellist Robert Hausmann that prompted this resurgence of expressive ardor.

It is evident also in the plangent pizzicatos and subsequent Klangfarben-like coloristic effects of the Adagio affettuoso and in that movement’s remote and Haydenesque setting in the flat supertonic key of F-sharp major.

A tangible link with the Double Concerto, incidentally, is to be found in the transition theme of the sonata’s first movement, which could almost be regarded as the concerto’s slow-movement theme set at a different melodic angle.

But the superb coup just before the movement’s end – this time a purely harmonic device that transmutes the last, literal restatement of the stirring subordinate theme into a tender valediction – is a stroke of genius that is all the sonata’s own.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Sonata For Cello And Piano No. 1 In E Minor, Op. 38

  1. Allegro non troppo – 14:43
  2. Allegretto quasi Menuetto – 5:58
  3. Allegro – 6:37

Johannes Brahms – Sonata For Cello And Piano No. 2 In F Major, Op. 99

  1. Allegro vivace – 9:22
  2. Adagio affettuoso – 7:45
  3. Allegro passionato – 7:20
  4. Allegro molto – 4:32:

FINAL THOUGHT:

Imagine you’re a cellist and a pianist and you’re trying to do some Brahms in your spare time and then freakin’ Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax come out and just stick the landing like it’s never been stuck before. That’s this recording!

 

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

Brahms – Five Trios – Volume 1

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Five Trios – Volume 1

Op. 8 in B Major

Op. 40 in E-Flat Major

Produced: Wade Botsford

Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio

David Jolley – Horn

Recorded at Concordia College – February 16, 17, 18 & 25, 1989

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Jesus F-ing Christ, it’s chamber music by Brahms played by world-class musicians – is there a negative? NO!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (Dr. Joseph Braunstein, 1989):

Brahms And The Trio

Reviewing Brahms’ piano trios in the context of his oeuvre it is instructive to compare his relevant output with Beethoven’s. Beethoven began his official compositional activity with the set of three piano trios published as Op. 1.

They were actually not his first, for he had composed two trios in Bonn before. Hidden in Vienna, they surfaced only after his death and were never included in practical editions through almost two centuries.

Beethoven’s first piano trios originated before 1792 and his last, the Trio in B-flat, Op. 97, was composed around 1811-12, though published in 1816. To be sure he wrote a piece for piano, violin and cello probably around 1816 which was published in 1824 as Op. 121a.

This opus number is chronologically misleading. These are variations for a trio ensemble, not a standard trio in several movements. Evidently no circumstances occurred to prompt Beethoven to create a piano trio in his last decade of his life.

The case of Brahms is different. He had destroyed the works written in his youth. We do know whether a piano trio was among them. His first work of this category, the Trio in B Major, Op. 8 is the achievement of an accomplished composer who had three piano sonatas but no chamber music piece to his credit so far.

In contrast to Beethoven, Brahms assigned the piano an extraordinarily communicative role in his chamber music throughout his life. Op. 8 was written in 1854 when he was twenty-one, while the Trio in A Minor, Op. 114 was composed in 1891, six years before his death at the age of sixty-four.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

TRIO IN B MAJOR, OP. 8

Brahms sketched the Trio in B Major in the summer of 1853 when he journeyed on foot, with a walking staff and knapsack, along the Rhine from Gottingen to Hanover. Completed in 1854 it was published in Leipzig in November 1854. There were two private readings in Dusseldorf, one at the home of Clara Schumann with Brahms at the piano and Joseph Joachim on the violin.

The first public hearing occurred on November 27, 1855 at Dodworth Hall in New York. The performers were William Mason (1829-1908), a pupil of Moscheles and Liszt; Theodore Thomas (1835-1905), later conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and Carl Bergmann (1821-1876) who became conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Trio in B Major is a unique creation in view of the key and the architectural dimensions of its original shape. The choice of the very seldom used key of B Major justifies a brief note. Not counting the short Preludes and Fugues in B Major of the Well Tempered Clavier, where the key of B Major was a foregone conclusion because of the didactic concept of the work, no large-scale composition, sonata, suite or concerto in B major by Bach, Carl Philippe Emmanuel Bach nor Handel exists. (Domenico Scarlatti’s K. 245, 246, 261 and 262 in B Major are not works in several movements.)

There are no sonatas, chamber music or orchestral compositions by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in B Major, Schubert broke the spell in his Piano Sonata in B Major, D 575, composed in 1817, published about 1844, which may have come to Brahms’ attention. The key of B major does not appear in larger works of Mendelssohn and Schumann either. Thus the trio of Brahms was the first important composition in B major without have B major successors of consequence.

This Trio constitutes a unique case within Brahms’ oeuvre because of its length. Brahms was fond of the Trio, yet in the course of time had second thoughts about it. At a performance in Vienna in 1871, he insisted on a substantial cut in the first movement. Finally, he decided on a thorough revision which received its public try-out in Budapest in December 1889 with Brahms at the piano, the Hungarian violinist Jeno Hubay, and the cellist David Popper.

In composing the B Major Trio, Brahms had taken as a point of departure Schubert’s trios, which are of symphonic proportion. So is Brahms’ piece whose measure total of 1628 exceeds that of all his instrumental works. To give a drastic example the Third Symphony is “only” 839 measures long. Thus the reworking resulted in a considerable shortening.

Numerically the “New Edition” (Neue Ausgabe), as Brahms called the recomposed work, is 458 measures shorter and the contents are considerably different. The Trio was a creation of Brahms’ youth, while the revision represents the result of deliberations of a composer whose position in music history was definitely established.

The Neue Ausgabe is essentially a new composition, the retained Scherzo notwithstanding, and we know that Brahms enjoyed it as such. Thus the retained ops number 8 is misleading and the opus number 111 applied to the String Quintet in G Major of 1891 would be more appropriate chronologically. Between the Trio of 1854 and that of 1891 stands most of Brahms’ entire creative life.

The principal idea of the first movement (Allegro con brio, 4/4, cut time) not only generates the Scherzo idea which, incidentally, reappears in the last movement of the “Horn Trio” but occurs slightly altered in the “March of the Dead” in the German Requiem and in the finale of the First Symphony. Substantial cuts and the omission of the fugal passage were made to the movement to achieve a tightly organized structure.

The quick Scherzo (Allegro molto, B Minor, 3/4), displaying minor-major dichotomy, was generally left intact except for the conclusion. The transparency and the deft coda in particular reveal the distinct Mendelssohn touch.

The Adagio (B Major, 4/4) underwent drastic changes. There was, strangely enough, a two measure quotation from Schubert’s song Am Meer serving as the second theme, the excision of which Brahms deemed necessary and justly so. The Adagio quality was seriously impaired by an Allegro portion of more than 60 measures. This passage removed, the movement closes quietly and gently. The tender lyricism of the Adagio is sharply contrasted with the Finale in B Minor (Allegro, 4/4).

The puzzling abandonment of the basic key B Major is partly made good, however, by the introduction of a new beautiful melody which first enters in D Major and reappears in B Major in the recapitulation. Yet B Minor prevails in the vigorous coda.

TRIO FOR PIANO, VIOLIN, AND HORN IN E-FLAT, OP. 40

Brahms composed this Trio, colloquially referred to as the “Horn Trio,” in May 1868 in Lichvental, a suburb of the well-known spa Baden-Baden. There he occupied a little place with a charming view of the country, its wooded hills and nearby forests which he used to roam. He was still suffering from the death of his mother who had passed away in February of that year.

For the unusual combination of piano, violin and horn Brahms had no model. These were the instruments he played in his boyhood. For this trio, Brahms thought of the so-called natural horn, colloquially referred to as Waldhorn (foresthorn) and actually used this term for the publication of the work.

The instrument was familiar to German audiences from the overtures to Der Freischultz and Oberon, and the Notturno in Mendelssohn’s music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the hunting scene at the close of the first act of Tannhauser where waldhorns sound in abundance. Siegfried’s horncall was then still ten years away.

Chromatic notes which the overtone series lacks could not be produced “naturally” on the waldhorn. The invention of the valve mechanism corrected the deficiency, but Wagner contended in the preface to the score of Tristan und Isolde that the technical improvement brought about “an undeniable loss of the beauty of its tone.”

That was correct for the 1850s and 1860s and the composer of Tristan even reckoned with the unavoidable improvement of the valve horn. Brahms would probably not find fault with the instruments and the delivery of his melodies by the players of our time. Thanks to modern technology the valves of horns are now greatly improved over their placement in the crude valved instruments of Brahms’ day.

While Brahms’ first trio was unusual because of its key and large dimension, the second occupies a special position on account of the scoring and the structure of the first movement (Andante, 2/4). This is not the customary sonata movement but a rondo-like five-section piece in which the division in 2/4 and 9/8 (poco piu animato) and the modified first section comprise the coda.

Lyricism is the keynote which is sharply contrasted with the vigorously racing Scherzo, a companion piece to the Scherzo of the B Major Trio. The Scherzo theme which foreshadows the principal ideas of the finale includes the ancient Gregorian Gloria intonation.

The slower Trio (Molto meno Allegro) is in the key of A-Flat Minor (seven flats) which, of course, causes intonation difficulties for the violinist. They are not mitigated in the following Adagio mesto in E-Flat Minor (6/8). This is a lament in memory of Brahms’ mother. The sorrowful mood turns passionate before the mild ending.

The Finale (Allegro con brio, 6/8) is a true movement a la chasse. The speedy motion in which the horn like the waldhorn of yore lustily participates is kept up throughout. At the request of the publisher Simrock, Brahms edited version in which the horn part was transposed for violin and cello respectively. He recognized the sales possibility. The Trio was dear to Brahms for happy (Lichtental) and sad memories and he was very grateful to those players who performed their part on the natural horn.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Arabesque Recordings, Wade Botsford, Diana Dru Botsford, Golub-Kaplan-Carr Trio, David Jolley, Johannes Brahms, Dr. Joseph Braunstein, Clar Schumann, Joseph Joachim, Moscheles, Franz Liszt, Theodore Thomas, Carl Bergmann, Domenico Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Concordia College

THE NEW YORK TIMES ON THE SCHUBERT TRIOS

Golub, Kaplan and Carr play with great finesse. Their carefully thought out and brilliantly executed interpretations are thoroughly convincing… The artists have gone back to the original manuscript of the Op. 100, restored the pre-publication cut, and recorded both versions of the finale, so that the listener can program the compact disc either way.”

On both side of the Atlantic, the Golub/Kaplain/Carr Trio has been acclaimed as one of the finest piano trios before the public today. Robert C. Marsh of the Chicago Sun-Times hailed their performance as “… bursting with genius. I cannot recall an occasion in which this music was played with such complete conviction.” The Trio has toured throughout the United States and Europe in major centers including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, London and Paris.

Their electrifying performance in Washington D.C. lead the Washington Post critic to write, “When musicians with international renown as soloists join forces, one awaits, sometimes fruitlessly, a revelatory performance that lives up to the individual talents. Yesterday proved that such a blending is not a pipe dream.”

They have also appeared to great critical acclaim with many major orchestras, performing the well-known and beloved Beethoven Triple Concerto.

David Galub, Mark Kaplan and Colin Carr are celebrated solo artists, with performances throughout the world at leading music festivals including Ravinia, Blossom, Spoleto and Marlboro, and with orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, London, Berlin and Montreal.

One of his generation’s most notable and acclaimed horn players, David Jolley has brought his remarkable virtuosity to audiences in the United States and Europe as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, as well as a versatile and highly respected recording artist.

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Trio In B Major, Op. 8 For Violin, Cello and Piano

  1. Movement 1 [Allegro con brio) 13:45
  2. Movement 2 [Scherzo – allegro molto] 6:20
  3. Movement 3 [Adagio] 8:38
  4. Movement 4 [Allegro] 6:04

Johannes Brahms – Horn Trio in E-Flat Major, Op. 40 for Horn, Violin and Piano

  1. Movement 1 [Andante] 9:46
  2. Movement 2 [Scherzo – Allegro] 7:46
  3. Movement 3 [Adagio mesto] 8:27
  4. Movement 4 [Finale – Allegro con brio] 6:02

https://youtu.be/x0-eerJgqZI

https://youtu.be/ORvvsRawgDo

FINAL THOUGHT:

Chamber music writing at its finest. Schubert – I know, I got your Schubert right here – but Goddamned, Brahms is the freakin’ man. That horn trio? Come on, seriously?!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Ludwig van Beethoven, Sviatoslav Richter, Leningrad Master, Sonata No 3, Sonata No 7, Sonata No 19, Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil Gilels, Sergei Prokofiev, Mstislav Rostropovitch, USSR Piano Competition, JS Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, A Montferrand, Leningrad Masters

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brahms – Double Concerto – Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Clara Schumann, Robert Hausmann, Franz Wullner, Hans Keller, Sum Raj Grubb, Michael Gray, Michael Sheady, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Marie milford, Barry Millington

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Concerto for Violin and Violoncello in A Minor, Op. 102

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64

Itzhak Perlman, Violin

Mstislav Rostropovich, Violoncello

Concertgebouworkest, Amsterdam (Bernard Haitink, Conductor)

Recorded 1983, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

I mean, if they could have only gotten a couple of decent soloists this would have been a home run.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (Barry Millington, 1988):

Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Violoncello in A minor, Op. 102

“I must tell you that I have had the strange notion of writing a concerto for violin and cello!” wrote Brahms to the conductor Franz Wullner in August 1887. A few days later, in a letter to Clara Schumann, the description was amended to “happy notion” – an indication that Brahms had relished the challenge of producing a work in such an unusual, and potentially problematic, medium.

The Double Concerto comes at the end of a line of substantial orchestral works: 4 symphonies, 3 concertos, 2 serenades, 2 overtures and the ‘Haydn’ Variations. It was written in 1887, during the second of the three summers Brahms spent at Hofstettern on Lake Thun in Switzerland, and was performed in Cologne on October 18 the same year.

The composer clearly intended the work as a gesture of reconciliation to his violinist friend Joseph Joachim, from whom he had become estranged over the latter’s divorce, and it was Joachim and his quartet colleague Robert Hausmann that Brahms had in mind when composing the work.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Clara Schumann, Robert Hausmann, Franz Wullner, Hans Keller, Sum Raj Grubb, Michael Gray, Michael Sheady, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Marie milford, Barry Millington

The short opening orchestral statement is reflected upon by the solo cello in a quasi-improvisatory passage, soon followed by another in which the two solo instruments exchange ideas in the non-competitive spirit that is to characterize the work as a whole.

Just as these extended solos recall the opening of the B Flat Piano Concerto, so the gently weaving figurations of the central F Major sections of the Andante look back to the slow movements of both piano concertos. The finale is a fusion of sonata and conventional rondo elements.

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64

Although not the only work Mendelssohn wrote for the medium (a youthful concerto in D minor has also been occasionally performed), the E minor is invariably referred to as the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

It is, without doubt, his finest concerto for any instrument and its passionate advocate, the late Hans Keller, was prepared to put it alongside the masterpieces of Beethoven and Brahms as “arguably the greatest of them all.”

It was written for the violinist Ferdinand David while Mendelssohn was on a recuperative holiday at Soden near Frankfurt am Main in September 1844 and was first heard the following March at the Leipzig Gewandhaus under the Danish composer Niels Gade.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Clara Schumann, Robert Hausmann, Franz Wullner, Hans Keller, Sum Raj Grubb, Michael Gray, Michael Sheady, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bernard Haitink, Marie milford, Barry Millington

The greatness of the work lies partly in its formal innovations, but primarily in the compelling potency of its melodic inspirations. Dispensing with the conventional opening orchestral tutti, Mendelssohn launches his solo instrument immediately on a poignant cantilena soaring high above the stave.

The slow movement too is dominated by an intensely lyrical theme both announced and expanded exclusively by the soloist. The first two movements are joined by a transition effected by a sustained bassoon note, scarcely sufficient to quell the applause that might have been expected in the nineteenth century.

A further structural innovation is the placing of the first movement cadenza at the end of the development section rather than later in the movement, following the recapitulation.

The finale, which is introduced by an eloquent little meditation by the soloist, is in the elfin dancing style – and indeed in the key – of Mendelssohn’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

TRACK LISTING:

Johannes Brahms – Concerto for Violin and Violoncello in A Minor, Op. 102

  1. Allegro [16:51]
  2. Andante [7:44]
  3. Vivace non troppo [8:41]

Felix Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

  1. Allegro molto appassionato [12:59]
  2. Andante [8:12]
  3. Allegro non troppo – Allegro non vivace [6:27]

FINAL THOUGHT:

This CD is not f-ing around (excuse my German!). In the late-1980s, Bernard Haitink conducted the finest band in the land and Perlamn and Rostropovich were no slouches either!

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

 

Brahms – Piano Sonata No. 3, Opus 5 (Emanuel Ax)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Opus 5

3 Intermezzi, Opus 117

Emanuel Ax, Piano

Recording Location: Henry Wood Hall, London, 1989

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Emanuel Ax sort of knows what he’s doing… and he’s also sort of a master of liner notes (see below):

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (By Emanuel Ax):

“I felt certain an individual would suddenly emerge fated to give expression to the times in the highest and most ideal manner, who would achieve mastery not step by step, but at once, springing like Minerva fully armed from the head of Jove. And now here he is, a young man at whose cradle graces and heroes stood watch. His name is Johannes Brahms…”

This was Schumann’s greeting to the twenty-year-old composer who had so impressed both Clara and Robert with his mastery. He had already played movements of his first two piano sonatas for Joseph Joachim, who was equally overwhelmed by the music’s “undreamt-of-originality and power” and by Brahm’s equally mesmerizing playing.

Brahm’s education create the two sides of his nature that make his music unique, personal, and virtually instantly recognizable. His music teacher Edouard Marxsen – an accomplished musician who valued Classical form and logical structure – strongly encouraged Johannes’ interest in composition, as well as accomplishment in virtuoso piano playing.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

At the same time, the Romantic movement in literature swept the young man off his feet (he called himself Johannes Kreisler, Junior, after E.T.A. Hoffmann’s mad violinist-hero, and kept a notebook of literary quotations which he named “Young Kreisler’s Treasure”).

This tug between structural balance and Romantic excess delineates one of the cardinal trademarks of Brahm’s music. The other ubiquitous element is rhythmic complexity, especially as exemplified in the hemiola.

Marxsen was instrumental in working with Johannes to strengthen his left-hand independence and sense of cross-rhythm. The contrast of two-against-three and various multiples of this relationship – so integral to Brahm’s dramatic pulse – represents a rhythmic counterpart to the emotional tug of excess and control. The feeling of inevitability in the large structure is always accompanied by a sense of turmoil underneath.

The Sonata No. 3, Opus 5, is unusual for Brahms in two respects: he cast the work in five movements (although one could almost make a case for doing the last three without pause, as part of one large structure); and, at Brahms’ request, a quotation from Sternau was included in the published version at the beginning of the second movement:

Der Abend dammert, das Mondlicht scheint,

Da sind zwei Herzen in Liebe Vereint,

Und halten sich selig umfangen.

(Night falls and the moon shines,

Two loving hearts are united,

Embracing each other blissfully.)

This evocative and touching phrase shows the influence of Romantic literature on Brahms – so striking considering his usual distaste for ascribing literary allusions to his music.

The piece must have been virtually finished by the time Brahms was twenty and had met the Schumanns for the first time – the second and third movements of the work, in fact, were premiered as a unit by Clara Schumann in a concert in Leipzig in 1854: the first performance of the whole Sonata occurred at a musicale in Magdeburg by Hermann Richter.

As usual, Brahms tinkered with the work for a long time, and, also as usual, we have only the final product, along with letters which tell Joachim that he had “substantially altered” the Sonata, and again, that he must “severely review the Sonata, especially the Finale.”

In any case, the final product has become one of the glories of the pianist’s repertoire.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

The first movementAllegro maestoso – isremarkable for its combination of breadth and intensity (in a letter from 1856, Brahms remarked: “NB, It would have been better to mark the first movement Moderato“). The outer limits of the instruments are immediately established in the first five measures; the next episode, with the muted pyramid of hemiolas (cross-rhythms), will act as an animating force throughout the Sonata. There is a remarkable economy of thematic material, as the first theme, the second theme, and, in fact, the transitional material between the two all share the same leap of the fourth.

The second movement, with the Sternau superscription, progresses from the intimate, yearning first theme to the even more hushed and intimate interlude in the sub-dominant which then becomes transformed into a coda of great ecstasy.

Once again, economy of thematic material combines with mastery of form and a prodigious invention to produce the most spontaneous-seeming, sublime effect. The last arpeggio of the movement appears to demand a continuation directly into the passion of the Scherzo, which abruptly breaks the rapturous stillness.

(The Scherzo perhaps testifies to Brahms’ familiarity with the Mendelssohn Piano Trio in C Minor; the theme is a note-for-note quotation of the Trio’s last movement; and Brahms’ C-Minor Piano Quartet seems to owe much of its last movement to the same Trio’s first.)

The Intermezzo, a true intermission – subtitled “Reminiscence” (Ruckblick), goes back to the love theme of the Andante, but this time in the minor mode; one feels very much a sense of loss and desolation.

Its conclusion speaks of tragedy, and the Finale emerges from it almost reluctantly – the pauses and fermatas have the function of a recitative-introduction, and it is an absolute masterstroke that Brahms also makes this quasi-improvisatory rumination the actual theme of the Rondo. With each repetition of the material it becomes stronger, until finally the entire series of hesitations resolves in an accelerated coda. The feeling is one of bursting the bonds which have held “the young eagle” (as Schumann called him) in check, and the final flight to freedom.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily's Music Dump, Emily Sachs, Johannes Brahms, Emanuel Ax, Piano Sonata No. 3, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Joseph Joachim, ETA Hoffman, Kreisler, Sternau, Edouard Marxsen, Hermann Richter, Joan Chisell, Michael Danner, Tritonus, Andreas Neubronner, Peter Laenger

The Three Intermezzi, Opus 117, also start with a superscription: the words “Schlaf Sanft, mein Kind” (Sleep, sleep, my child) from a Scottish lullaby. The mood of peace and intimacy of the first gives way in the second and third Intermezzi to ever increasing darkness and despair.

These pieces and, in fact, almost all of the late piano works are more directed toward the individual than toward the audience. Joan Chisell, in her book on Brahms, very plausibly suggests that Brahms’ piano writing in his later years was motivated by the increasing frailty of Clara Schumann, who was so intimately associated with all his creations for the piano. The dimensions, outwardly, have become smaller, but the inner dimensions are greater than ever before – the density of emotion and intellectual stimulation is as great in these works as in anything Brahms or, for that matter, anyone ever penned.

TRACK LISTING:

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Opus 5

  1. Allegro maestoso [10:36]
  2. Andante [10:44]
  3. Scherzo [4:36]
  4. Intermezzo [3:44]
  5. Finale [7:52]

3 Intermezzi, Opus 117

  1. No. 1 in E-flat Major [4:39]
  2. No. 2 in B-flat Minor [4:32]
  3. No. 3 in C-sharp Minor [6:10]

FINAL THOUGHT:

Just a great recording from one of the great master interpreters of Brahms in history. I couldn’t find a video of him playing it (the link above is over Emanuel Ax playing the 3rd movement in audio only) but here is a great classic performance in by Claudio Arrau from Santiago, Chile in 1984 (though it completely looks like the 1960s).

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Ludwig van Beethoven, Sviatoslav Richter, Leningrad Master, Sonata No 3, Sonata No 7, Sonata No 19, Heinrich Neuhaus, Emil Gilels, Sergei Prokofiev, Mstislav Rostropovitch, USSR Piano Competition, JS Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, A Montferrand, Leningrad Masters

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

 

 

 

Brahms – Ballades – Rhapsodies – (Glenn Gould)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Glenn Gould, Johannes Brahms, Ballades, Rhapsodies, Peter Eliot Stone, Dr. W. Steuhl, Stan Tomkel, Larry Keyes, Ray Moore, Kevin Doyle, Don Hunstein, Samuel H Carter, Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Schumann, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Ballades, Opus 10

Rhapsodies, Opus 79

Glenn Gould, Piano

Recording Location: CBS Recording Studios, New York, NY, 1982

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

There is nothing to review about Glenn Gould’s final piano recordings – just listen and love.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Glenn Gould, Johannes Brahms, Ballades, Rhapsodies, Peter Eliot Stone, Dr. W. Steuhl, Stan Tomkel, Larry Keyes, Ray Moore, Kevin Doyle, Don Hunstein, Samuel H Carter, Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Schumann, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES: (by Peter Eliot Stone)

The nineteenth century ballade took its earliest inspiration from literary sources – the ballads or narrative poems, usually German or English in origin, dealing with legendary, historical or often purely romantic characters and happenings.

Thus, ballades were early characterized by a programmatic content that could easily seize the imagination both of composer and listener alike. Works by some composers, such as Frederic Chopin, were even considered to parallel lines of poems – in Chopin’s case those by fellow-countryman Adam Mickiewicz.

Johannes Brahms, on the other hand, devoted his ballades, as a rule, to “absolute” music, and his Four Ballades, Op. 10 of 1854 contain only one “programmatic” piece – the first in D minor.

This Ballade musically embodies the famous Scottish ballad of patricide, Edward (“Why does your brand sae drop wi’ bluid, Edward, Edward?”), which Brahms knew in translation from Johann Gottfried Herder’s Stimmen der Volker and which he later set for alto and tenor (Op. 75, No. 1). Brahms climaxes this grim dialogue between mother and son with the Beethovenian fate motif that was to color many of his other works. When the opening theme returns, Brahms treats it in a surprisingly operatic fashion.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Glenn Gould, Johannes Brahms, Ballades, Rhapsodies, Peter Eliot Stone, Dr. W. Steuhl, Stan Tomkel, Larry Keyes, Ray Moore, Kevin Doyle, Don Hunstein, Samuel H Carter, Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Schumann, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg

The second Ballade, in D major, departs from its lyrical mood with a dramatically contrasting middle section.

The elfin third Ballade, in B minor, labelled intermezzo and functioning in the set as a scherzo, likewise differentiates its middle section. Brahm’s interest in the inner voices of the fourth Ballade, in B major, reveals the influence of his friend Robert Schumann, but Brahm’s more classic reserve and his formal sophistication yield glimpses of the master’s mature style.

Brahms dedicated his Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 (1879), to the charming and musical Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, originally entitling them “Capriccio (presto agitato)” and “Molto passianato.” For Brahms, the word capriccio did not seem to imply a light-hearted caprice (unless he used the titles ironically). Almost all of his caprices were gloomy, turbulent, and in the minor mode.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Glenn Gould, Johannes Brahms, Ballades, Rhapsodies, Peter Eliot Stone, Dr. W. Steuhl, Stan Tomkel, Larry Keyes, Ray Moore, Kevin Doyle, Don Hunstein, Samuel H Carter, Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Schumann, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg

Regarding publication in 1880, Brahms suggested the title “Rhapsody” to Elisabeth. She answered: “You know I am almost most partial to the non-committal word Klavierstucke, just because it is non-committal: but probably that won’t do, in which case the name Rhapsodien is the best, I expect, although the clearly defined form of both pieces seems somewhat at variance with one’s conception of a rhapsody.”

Somewhat at variance, indeed!

Temperamentally “youthful” but compositionally mature, there is nothing improvisatory or irregular about these pieces. The first, in B minor, contains its agitation within a da capo form to which a coda has been added.

The second, in G minor, unleashes its passion through what for all intents and purposes is a sonata form. Yet the pieces do not resemble movements that might flow from the pen of the neo-classicist Brahms when he intended to write a sonata. Here, Brahms eschews the stable expository section for the instability of development right from the start.

In the first Rhapsody, the middle, bagpipe-like section, is based on a complete exposition of a “second theme” that had been arrived at prematurely and in the “wrong” key in the first section where it was then interrupted by a further intensive development of the first theme.

The G-minor Rhapsody opens with a true primary-group theme whose iambic rhythm, one of Brahm’s fingerprints, contrasts fittingly with the march-like secondary group theme. But the oppressive nature of this second Rhapsody continues to the bitter end, unlike the brief B-major close of the first Rhapsody which somewhat softens its turbulence.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Glenn Gould, Johannes Brahms, Ballades, Rhapsodies, Peter Eliot Stone, Dr. W. Steuhl, Stan Tomkel, Larry Keyes, Ray Moore, Kevin Doyle, Don Hunstein, Samuel H Carter, Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Robert Schumann, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1: Brahms Ballade, Op. 10, No.1 (D-Minor)
  • 2: Brahms Ballade, Op. 10, No. 2 (D-Major)
  • 3: Brahms Ballade, Op. 10, No. 3 (B-Minor)
  • 4: Brahms Ballade, Op. 10, No. 4 (B-Major)
  • 5: Brahms Rhapsody, Op. 79, No. 1 (B-Minor)
  • 6: Brahms Rhapsody, Op. 79, No. 2 (G-Minor)

FINAL THOUGHT:

Below is a fascinating (audio) recording of the complete Brahms Ballades recording session from 1982. I didn’t listen to the complete 5 HOUR (!!) recording – but just so much great audio of Gould being Gould (so to speak). Enjoy!

[This recording receives the VERY RARE 88 out of 88 for the simple fact – it’s Glenn Gould’s last piano recording before his death. It may not deserve 88 out of 88 (from a review standpoint) but as a huge Gould fan, anything less would be silly.]

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Classical Music, Symphony No 9, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Robert Page, Carol Vaness, Janice Taylor, Siegfried Jerusalem, Robert Lloyd, Friedrich Schiller, Tony Faulkner

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brahms – Symphony No. 4 (Bruno Walter)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Symphony No 4, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Thomas Frost, Larry Keyes, Ted Bernstein, Mary Evans, Art Nouveau

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Tragic Overture, Opus 81

Symphony No. 4, in E Minor, Opus 98

Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Bruno Walter (Conductor)

Recording Location: American Legion Hall, Hollywood, California (Tragic Overture 1960; Symphony No. 4 1959)

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

The final recording of the Brahms symphony cycle Bruno Walter and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the 82-year-old genius really brings a weight and importance to Brahms that only an 82-year-old genius can bring.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Symphony No 4, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Thomas Frost, Larry Keyes, Ted Bernstein, Mary Evans, Art Nouveau

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES: (None)

This is a discount CD from the remastered CBS Masterworks recordings – so, unfortunately, no notes. I would have loved to have read about the recording of the Brahms symphony cycle.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Symphony No 4, Bruno Walter, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, John McClure, Thomas Frost, Larry Keyes, Ted Bernstein, Mary Evans, Art Nouveau

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1: Tragic Overture, Opus 81 [13:18]
  • Symphony No. 4, Opus 98
  • 2: Allegro non troppo [12:55]
  • 3: Andante moderato [11:46]
  • 4: Allegro giocoso; Poco meno presto [6:26]
  • 5: Allegro energico e passionaato; Piu Allegro [11:16]

FINAL THOUGHT:

These great old recordings aren’t heard that much anymore. So happy I have them in my collection. This project is allowing me to go back and listen to CDs that I may not have ever heard again.

The above links at the top of the page are of the actual recordings reviewed here (no video). Below is just a really great live performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 – Bernard Haitink conducting. Enjoy!

 

piano_rating_82

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Brahms – Symphony No. 3 (Solti)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Sir Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Medinah Temple, Robert Schumann, Hanslick, Hans Richter, Joachim, Lionel Salter, James Mallinson, Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, Yvette Debergues, Henning Weber

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Opus 90

Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti

Recording Location: Medinah Temple, Chicago, May 1978

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

The greatest performance of the greatest Brahms symphony [best of 4] (and you can take that to the Medinah Temple!).

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Sir Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Medinah Temple, Robert Schumann, Hanslick, Hans Richter, Joachim, Lionel Salter, James Mallinson, Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, Yvette Debergues, Henning Weber

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (English notes by Lionel Salter):

SYMPHONY NO. 3 IN F MAJOR, OPUS 90

When Brahms had written his First Symphony he was still unsure of himself as a writer for orchestra, and though respected as a musician, had still to make a reputation other than as a pianist and conductor.

By the age of 50, sever years later, this had all changed: established as a composer with the great success of his Second Symphony and Second Piano Concerto, and honored with doctorates from the universities of Cambridge (which he declined) and Breslau, Brahms was now internationally famous, and though he continued to give concert tours, these began to take second place.

In 1883, however, feeling the need for rest after strenuous concert activities, he went to Wiesbaden, where he completed the Third Symphony: it was performed on December 2 by the Vienna Philharmonic under Hans Richter (who had also introduced the Second).

Hanslick, Vienna’s leading critic, greeted the work thoughtfully and enthusiastically: “Many [music lovers] may prefer the titanic force of the First, others the untroubled charm of the Second… but the Third strikes me as artistically the most perfect. It is more compactly made, more transparent in detail, more plastic in the main themes; the orchestration is richer in novel and charming combinations; in ingenious modulations it is equal to the best of Brahms’ works.”

An allusion to Brahms‘ earlier days may be seen in the main subject of the first movement, which is rhythmically identical with that of the “Rhenish” Symphony by his friend and champion Schumann; but an even more meaningful retrospective glance is provided by the work’s initial three chords, a thematic cell that permeates the entire symphony. This is a version – as it were, saddened by experience – of Brahms’ frequently-invoked youthful “life-motto” F-A-F (Frei aber Froh, “free but cheerful”), which had been a response to his erstwhile friend Joachim’s F-A-E (Frei aber einsam, “free but alone”), a figure that appears in bars 3 and 4 of the Andante.

The Brahms pattern’s false relation (F-A / A-flat-F) lends the whole work a major-minor ambiguity which is resolved only at the very end when, after a finale in which the symphony’s climactic dramatic conflict is centered, it returns with a kind of calm philosophical resignation. (All the movements, indeed, end quietly.)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Sir Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Medinah Temple, Robert Schumann, Hanslick, Hans Richter, Joachim, Lionel Salter, James Mallinson, Kenneth Wilkinson, Colin Moorfoot, Yvette Debergues, Henning Weber

ACADEMIC FESTIVAL OVERTURE, OPUS 80

In acknowledgement of the honorary doctorate conferred on him by Breslau in 1879, Brahms composed, the following summer, two works which he conducted in that city on January 4, 1881. One was the Tragic Overture, which had partly existed in draft for some time, the other, brand new, the Academic Festival Overture, a rollicking pot-pourri of student songs.

It begins mysteriously with an oblique reference to the popular Rokoczi March, proceeds via a drumroll to “We have built a stately house” (to which the students would have sung their own, unprintable, alternative words), “The father of the country” (on violins) and the freshmen’s initiation song “What comes from up there” (on bassoons), and finally erupts into a joyously full-throated version of the most famous of all student songs, “Gaudeamus igitur.”

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1-4: Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Opus 90 [38:51]
  • 5: Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80 [10:35]

FINAL THOUGHT:

Above is a bonus Bernstein live performance of the 3rd Symphony – just because it’s awesome and I would prefer to have live performances as opposed to just audio (the Solti audio music links are at the top).

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Classical Music, Symphony No 9, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Robert Page, Carol Vaness, Janice Taylor, Siegfried Jerusalem, Robert Lloyd, Friedrich Schiller, Tony Faulkner

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)

Brahms – Symphony No. 2 (Masur)

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim SvejdaJohannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73

Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80

New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur – Conductor

Recording Location: Avery Fisher Hall, New York (1-4 February 21-24, 1992; 5 December 1992)

ONE-SENTENCE REVIEW:

Brahms #2 conducted by Herr Kurt – what’s not to like?

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (by Jim Svejda, 1992):

SYMPHONY NO. 2 IN D MAJOR, OPUS 73

For more than twenty years Johannes Brahms tried his hand of the symphonic genre without having to face the dreaded prospect of actually writing a Symphony.

The two Serenades Opus 11 and Opus 16, the D minor Piano Concerto No. 1 and even A German Requiem contain the materials of his innumerable aborted attempts to assume the mantle that had been placed on his head years before he was willing to wear it.

“There are asses in Vienna who take me for a second Beethoven,” he once said to his friend, the conductor Hermann Levi. “You don’t know what it means to the likes of us when we hear his footsteps behind us.”

A musical conservative who was determined to follow in the line of Haydn, Mozart, and his great idol, Brahms was unwilling to risk a direct comparison with Beethoven until he felt fully ready. He would not publish a string quartet until he was forty, and his long-rumored, eagerly awaited First Symphony would not be performed until November 4, 1876.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

With the Symphony’s agonizing gestation behind him and the work launched with considerable success – following the premiere in Karlsruhe, members of the orchestra thanked him for proving that Beethoven had not necessarily said the final word on symphonic form – Brahms would dash out the Second Symphony during the summer of the following year.

Written in Portschach, an enchanting Austrian resort village on the shores of the Worthersee, the new symphony apparently gave its composer little trouble, a fact the modest Brahms attributed to the beauty of his surroundings.

By mid-summer work was proceeding so well that he could afford to write teasing, self-mocking letters to his friends. “You have only to sit at the piano,” he instructed Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, “put your small feet on the two pedals in turn, and strike the chord of F minor several times in succession, first in the treble, then in the bass (ff and pp), and you will gradually gain a vivid impression of my “latest.”

The musical and emotional resemblance of Brahm’s Second Symphony to Beethoven’s “Pastoral” has not been lost on listeners over the years, any more than it was on the audience which heard it for the first time on December 30th, 1877 at a Vienna Philharmonic concert conducted by Hans Richter.

Brahms ardent champion, the powerful Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick could report: “Seldom has there been such a cordial public expression of pleasure in a new composition. Brahams’s Symphony No. 1 was a work for earnest connoisseurs capable of constant and microscopic pursuit of its minutely ramified excursions, the Symphony No. 2 extends its warm sunshine to connoisseurs and laymen alike.”

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

For all its outward geniality, the lengthiest of Brahms’s symphonies is a work which conceals unexpected depths of seriousness and dark introspection; and for all its apparent effortlessness, it is one of the most rigorously organized of all Brahms’s works.

For instance, almost all of the Symphony’s thematic material grows from the simple three-note figure in the cellos and basses heard at the beginning of the opening Allegro non troppo. Several preliminary transformations of this motif lead to the flowing theme in the first violins which launches the first movement proper. A secondary theme, again derived from the three-note kernel and tinged with unfulfillable longing, is heard in the cellos and violas.

The dark voices of the cellos also dominate the opening of the Adagio non troppo, one of the most sorrowful major key movements in the symphonic literature. The horn, flutes and oboes take up the cellos’ song, reshaping it into a second theme which, with the first, undergoes an expansive and luxuriant development.

In place of the traditional Scherzo, the Symphony’s third movement is a curious hybrid structure perhaps best described as an Intermezzo in Scherzo form. The delicately scored principal theme alternates with two faster episodes of exceptional grace and lightness; all are thematically related and all derive from the Symphony’s germinating three-note cell.

A reference to the same motto begins the energetic Finale. Three principal themes are presented, developed, altered and reconfigured in rapid succession. While this good-natured cascase of notes is in fact one of the most intricately worked-out of the composer’s inventions, most attempts at closer analysis are usually swept away by the blaze of D major sunlight in which the Symphony ends.

ACADEMIC FESTIVAL OVERTURE, OPUS 80

When the University of Breslau conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Johannes Brahms in March of 1879, they expected – at very least – a symphony from the grateful composer.

The composer, who had become a proficient pianist in some of the more fashionable establishments of the red-light district in Hamburg, decided to return the favor with what he called “a jolly potpourri of student songs a la Suppe.”

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Masur, Wolfgang Mohr, Martin Fouque, Eberhard Sengpiel, Ultrich Ruscher, Christoph Closen, Wolftram Nehis, Ruodlieb Neubauer, Martina Schon, Edwin F. Kalmus, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Suppe, Jim Svejda

Written in 1880, the same year which saw the composition of the grimly serious Tragic Overture, his Suppe Potpourri reveals a side of Brahms’s musical personality which he rarely displayed. For apart from the Finale of the Second Symphony, a few of the songs, and the virtually unknown Triumphlied – a festive occasional work written to celebrate the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War – the Academic Festival Overture is one of that handful of pieces in which Brahms abandons his celebrated mood of “autumnal melancholy” and gives his considerable sense of humor free reign.

While the Overture most certainly is a “jolly potpourri” based on four traditional German university songs, it has little in common with Suppe’s irresistible, but feather-weight Light Cavalry or Poet and Peasant. It is a superbly fashioned and amusingly “academic” sonata-allegro movement which both impressed and befuddled the University’s Rector, Senate and Faculty when Brahms presented it to them on January 4th, 1881.

The pompous introduction, in which the surly mutterings of bearded professors might be heard, concludes with a hymn-like setting of the first of the Overture’s principal themes, “Wir hatten bebauet ein staffliches Haus,” a song whose revolutionary sentiments caused it to be banned in Germany throughout much of the 19th century.

Two dramatically contrasting themes are now introduced: the patriotic “Der Landesvater,” first heard in the second violins, and the comic Freshman hazing ditty – whose presence in the Overture scandalized its first audience – “Was kommt dort von der Hoh?” – announced by a pair of jovial bassoons.

A brief development of all the major themes leads to a magisterial coda based on the celebrated “Gaudeamus igitur,” which Brahms decks out in the most resplendent orchestral fabric he would ever employ.

Curiously enough, Brahms despised the title of the piece. For years he tried to think of something better than Academic Festival Overture, but apparently never could.

TRACK LISTING:

  • 1-4: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Opus 73 [39:38]
  • 5: Akademische Festouverture, Opus 80 [9:38]

FINAL THOUGHT:

Fantastic performance and recording – but really, I’m just doing time until we get to my favorite Brahms symphony – No. 3!

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Triple Concerto, Classical Music, Piano Trio, Kakadu Variations, Bernard Haitink, Prince Lobkowitz, Anton Felix Schindler, Archduke Rudolph, Karl August Seiler, Anton Krafft, Moazart, Hugo Riemann, Thayer, Wenzel Mullers, The Sisters of Prague, Beaux Arts Trio, Manahem Pressler, Isidore Cohen, Bernard Greenhouse, London Philharmonic, Michael Talbot, Lothar Hoffmann-Erbrecht, Jacques Lasserre, Carlo Vitali, Bart Mulder, Christian Steiner, Ed Koenders, Estelle Kercher

Emily Sachs – President – Manka Music Group (A division of Manka Bros. Studios – The World’s Largest Media Company)