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.


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.


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


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)

Beethoven – Piano Concerto No 5 – Emperor

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Murray Perahia, Emperor Concerto, Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Alfred Einstein, Napoleon, Carl Czerny, Johann Philipp Christian Schultz, Johann Schneider, Phillip Ramey, Tim Attenborough, Kees De Jong, Stacy Drummond, Steven EpsteinLudwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Concerto No. 5 for Piano & Orchestra in E-flat Major, Opus 73

Murray Perahia, Piano – The Concertgebouw Orchestra (Bernard Haitink, Conductor)

Recorded at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 1986


You know it – you love it – an excellent recording of a true masterwork.

ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (by Phillip Ramey):

Similar to his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos stand in considerable contrast to one another.

No. 4 (1804-06) is perhaps the most poetic and intimate of Beethoven’s concertos, a work in which lyricism is predominant; while No. 5 (1809) is animated by what might be termed the composer’s public-square manner, gesture rather than melody given pride of place.

E-flat major was the key favored by Beethoven (and others) for music of “heroic” cast. With the Fifth Concerto, one can go further and make a case for its being a “military” concerto.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Murray Perahia, Emperor Concerto, Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Alfred Einstein, Napoleon, Carl Czerny, Johann Philipp Christian Schultz, Johann Schneider, Phillip Ramey, Tim Attenborough, Kees De Jong, Stacy Drummond, Steven EpsteinMusicologist Alfred Einstein rightly described this score as the “apotheosis of the military concept” in Beethoven’s music, because of its martial rhythms, aggressive themes, motives of triumph and oft-pronunciatory nature.

According to Einstein, compositions in military style were familiar to Beethoven’s audiences: “They expected a first movement in four-four time of a ‘military’ character; and they reacted with unmixed pleasure when Beethoven not only fulfilled but surpassed their expectations.”

Certainly, there had never before been a piano concerto of such grand proportions or with such emphasis laid on brilliant pianistic effect for its own sake.

It has been theorized that between writing the Fourth and Fifth Concertos, Beethoven obtained a new and better piano, one that suggested the possibilities inherent in an improved instrument and provoked him to assign the piano an equal, even sovereign, role (as opposed to its more usual essentially ornamental role) when combining it with orchestra.

In any case, the E-flat Major Concerto’s extraordinary improvisatory cadezalike opening, with its decidedly magisterial tone, must have startled its first audiences, and the unprecedented length of the first movement (in Beethoven’s works, only the corresponding movement of the Eroica Symphony is longer) must have come as a surprise.

Beethoven wrote his Fifth Concerto during the invasion year 1809, when his native Vienna was besieged by Napoleon’s armies – a fact that surely dictated the music’s military atmosphere.

murray_perahia_beethovenOccasionally, the composer took refuge from the bombardment in a basement room, where he covered his head with pillows to lessen the din. “The course of events has affected by body and soul,” he wrote “[and] life around me is wild and disturbing, nothing but drums, cannons, soldiers…”

Beethoven developed a case of war fever, which expressed itself in outbursts of rage against Napoleon and the French.

During the occupation of the city, he was once observed in a coffeehouse shaking his fist at a French officer, shouting, “If I were a general and knew as much about strategy as I know about counterpoint, I would give you something to think about!”

The subtitle “Emperor” was appended not by Beethoven or its first publisher, but by tradition. It may have arisen from an incident that supposedly occurred at the Vienna premiere, on February 12, 1812, during the French occupation (Carl Czerny was soloist; there is no record that Beethoven himself ever played the work; by that time he grown too deaf to perform).

A French soldier in the audience, taken with the Concerto’s grandeur and imperiousness, reportedly cried, “C’est l’Empereur!”  If true, the outburst cannot have pleased the staunchly republican composer, who in 1804 had angrily eradicated a dedication to Napoleon on the autograph score of his Eroica Symphony when Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France.

Manka Bros., Khan Manka, Emily Sachs, Emily's Music Dump, Beethoven, Murray Perahia, Emperor Concerto, Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Alfred Einstein, Napoleon, Carl Czerny, Johann Philipp Christian Schultz, Johann Schneider, Phillip Ramey, Tim Attenborough, Kees De Jong, Stacy Drummond, Steven EpsteinThe first performance of the E-flat Major Concerto evidently took place in Leipzig on November 28, 1811, at the seventh Gewandhaus Concert. The soloist was Johann Schneider, who may have been a Beethoven student, and the conductor was one Johann Phillip Christian Schultz.

The piece was enthusiastically received by the audience, and a January 1, 1812 noticed in the Allegemeine musikalische Zeitung described it as “undoubtedly one of the most original, imaginative, effective but also most difficult of all existing concertos.”


  • 1: Allegro [20:30]
  • 2: Adagio un poco moto [8:30]
  • 3: Rondo: Allegro [9:43]


While the 20 minute opening movement is genius in a military-style bombastic kind of way, it’s really the 2nd movement that is the star here. From all I’ve heard of Beethoven’s work – it seems to me he really knew what he was doing.

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