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#371435 - 01/05/08 01:01 PM Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
What are your opinions on this piece?

This is Brahms proving himself to the world. A very powerful work which shows a unique voice, albeit far from his mature style.

I have actually considered it as a closing piece on a recital for what it says, as this recital will be the place that I choose to draw the line between childhood and adulthood in my life.

Thoughts?

Daniel
_________________________
Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon

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#371436 - 01/05/08 01:11 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
I absolutely adore it! I think it is one of the finest opus 1's ever. And when Brahms first went into the wide world, it was always this sonata that he chose to play to introduce himself as a composer. Later, when asked why he published this as opus 1 and the earlier F# minor sonata as opus 2, Brahms said, "When one introduces oneself, one wants to be looked at at the head, not the heels."

In fact, I think of this sonata as highly as the more often performed F minor sonata, and to my ears the finale of the C major is a better ending than that of the F minor. To my fingers, it is not as tough as the F minor sonata, but as I said once, I simply can't get those leaps in the last movement main theme right. Do you have troubles with those too? If not, how did you get those leaps down? Anyone else have any advice on how to execute those rapid leaps?

It's great that you are taking an interest in this wonderful work!
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

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#371437 - 01/05/08 01:26 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8887
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
In fact, I think of this sonata as highly as the more often performed F minor sonata, and to my ears the finale of the C major is a better ending than that of the F minor.
I don't think I would quite go that far, but I understand where you're coming from. The C major is one terrific piece -much easier musically and technically than the F minor- and I would encourage Daniel to study it!

And speaking of early Brahms, isn't the Eb minor Scherzo a superb piece of work? One wonders what the rest of the sonata sounded like before meeting its fate at the hearth.
_________________________
Jason

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#371438 - 01/05/08 01:43 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
argerichfan, do we have any evidence that the Eb minor Scherzo was originally part of another sonata? I mean, aside from the fact that there were at least two (possibly three) sonatas that preceded the three we know?

Agreed, it's a great piece, and a wonderful example of the 19th century "diabolical" scherzo type -- though admittedly the Chopin B minor is the supreme one in this respect (to my ears) -- as one writer on music put it, "One wonders why Chopin called these pieces Scherzi. The first could've easily been called 'War and Peace.' "

I absolutely adore that shattering dissonance near the end (German augmented 6th over a dominant pedal). And the way he pounds it in a proto-Bartokian way!
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#371439 - 01/05/08 02:19 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8887
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
argerichfan, do we have any evidence that the Eb minor Scherzo was originally part of another sonata?
No direct evidence that I know of, but don't you think it a bit odd that Brahms would have written a stand-alone Scherzo without at least considering it in a larger context? Intuitively it makes sense to me.

On the other hand, the Chopin Scherzi (which I love!) work perfectly as stand-alones, and I could never conceive of a prior or subsequent movement to any of them. But all hard to explain, really.
_________________________
Jason

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#371440 - 01/05/08 02:27 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
Janus K. Sachs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 1710
Loc: Betelgeuse, baby!
Yeah, I know what you are getting at. On the other hand, what makes me think Brahms meant it as a stand alone piece is the fact that he uses the expansive two trio layout, which Brahms never used again in any piece or movement afterwards (and to think that Schumann is often associated with the two trio layout, though Brahms probably got this from some of Mozart's use of two trios since he only got to know Schumann's works after he composed the Scherzo). But one never knows, really, we could only guess.
P.S.: On the other hand, the rather perfunctory "coda" (if it could be called as such) supports your hypothesis. A stand alone piece of that nature seems to cry out for a bigger ending than what Brahms provided.
_________________________
Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.

Top
#371441 - 01/05/08 02:37 PM Re: Brahms Sonata, Op. 1
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8887
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
...what makes me think Brahms meant it as a stand alone piece is the fact that he uses the expansive two trio layout, which Brahms never used again in any piece or movement afterwards...
I figured this was going to come up in support of the stand-alone theory. And it is a powerful argument, no doubt.

But it makes me fantasize about what the sheer scale of the other movements would have to be, so as not to be dwarfed by such a monstrous -and glorious- Scherzo.

Good point about the "perfunctory" coda.
_________________________
Jason

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