Mozart and Brahms First Piano Quartets in g minor.

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The thing is, Brahms has

The thing is, Brahms has always being accused of the exact opposite of what you say: of being dry and not “emotional” enough….

 

The comparison with Tchaikovsky is actually quite interesting (but to compare him to Rachmaninov is a step too far, really). With Tchaikovsky you always feel the the emotional message is what really counts, and all formal aspects are subordinated to this. Brahms is sort of the opposite, in that much of the emotional effects emanate from the formal unfolding of the piece. Brahms is far more Beethoven than Tchaikovsky.

 

Having said that I actually think that you have a point. Sometimes I’ve perceived in his music a sort of tired and not fully honest sentimentality, mainly in his slow movements. We talked about this time ago.

 

Again I’m not keen on the famous recording by Giles and the Amadeus Quartet. For a classic (Romantic) recording I much prefer Yo Yo Ma, Laredo, etc.

But I think you are more likely to enjoy Domus or the Angelich one I mentioned. Enjoy the music

 


Thanks, Parla and Camaron. It

Thanks, Parla and Camaron. It is good to have some encouragement to reach for new works. I have been doing a lot of re-listening recently - lots of stuff I know very well. I have found the Domus recording on spotify. Will report back tomorrow........

Interim Report

Listened to the first movement three times last night, followed by the intermezzo (twice) and andante (once). Haven't got to the finale yet.......

Well, it isn't the kind of music I suggested earlier. It is quite "hot", overall, but not sickly romantic by any means. More like Beethoven on steroids. First impressions.........

I found it hard to enjoy the first movement, though this may change with more listening. There's just too much going on for me. How many themes are there in the exposition? Five? Six? It's one thing after another and not easy to sense much coherence. Thematically not very interesting, either. The long development and final section is much better and more enjoyable, but still incredibly dense and still a lot of material that doesn't obviously fit together. Listening to this movement, I am (again) surprised there is so much emphasis on his "classicism". This may well be in sonata form, but it is so densely stuffed with material, the essential classical virtues of proportion and balance are lost. (Though I accept further listening may make it "feel" more balanced.......) It makes me wonder if there is a little too much emphasis on form in these matters. 

Intermezzo: absolutely tremendous. Truly amazing.  I am looking forward to listening to this again later.

Andante: hmmmm. Will have to listen again, but not immediately appealing. Opening with a dreary "lyrical" theme that works itself into a great lather, without actually  getting anywhere........

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

I really cannot figure out which are these "other composers of the same era" who were less "romantic". Bruckner was an extreme exception to the extent that some musicians believe that he does not belong to any specific period and, definitely, he is not the clear specimen of what is a composer of the Romantic period.

I had in mind the the Berlioz-Liszt-Wagner-Bruckner axis........all of whom (with the occasional exception of Liszt) seem to exude a quite different "romantic" spirit to others in their era.

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

There's just too much going on for me. How many themes are there in the exposition? Five? Six? It's one thing after another and not easy to sense much coherence. Thematically not very interesting, either.

That is kind of unique to this period of Brahms’ career (his first maturity, it is referred to sometimes). At this time he was studying intensely (and felt very influenced by) Schubert, and that is why there is such a wealth of thematic material. With time Brahms’ style became much more sparse and lean, although the imprint did not change, and music by him is instantly recognisable regardless of the period. In another thread time ago I commented that Clara Schumann and some other close friends did not warm too much to all this prodigality of the first movement, and found it a bit messy. Although I understand the criticism I don’t share it. To me there is some sort of invisible logic in how one theme follows another that makes it all work beautifully.

Now, I totally disagree that thematically is not very interesting. The first and main theme, directly introduced by the piano, is sublime in its understated emotion. I feel a bit like my heart melts everytime I listen to it.  I find every single theme that follows nearly as appealing. But Brahms’s melodic style does have, in my experience, a strange quality, in that it does not feel immediately appealing, although unfailingly grows with more listening.

camaron wrote:

camaron wrote:

 

To me there is some sort of invisible logic in how one theme follows another that makes it all work beautifully.

Now, I totally disagree that thematically is not very interesting.......

Well, I am usually pretty slow to like new music. I don't put a lot of stock in my current responses to this work. A masterpiece needs a lot more than two or three listens. I will give it another go tonight. (I remembered that I have the Nash Ensemble Brahms Chamber box-set, so have been listening to that.)

I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed when I first got to know the major Mozart operas. The finales, especially, used to feel as if there was just too much going on - too much action, too much singing, too many notes........It just took a little time for it to make sense.

Yes, it takes more than  a

Yes, it takes more than  a couple of listens. Also different composers have different effects on different individuals. Sometimes you hit the ground running with a new composer sometimes it takes years of trying. It took me many years to like Mozart, and no time to get Bach. I’ve always said that Brahms is a difficult composer, a slow grower. There is no rush if the reward is good.

The "romantic" spirit and its composers.

I suspected that. However, all four you mentioned are not typical composers of the "Romantic spirit" and all four are "redeemed" by their excessive, albeit almost always impressive and masterful orchestration. Brahms is also redeemed by his closest adherence to the Classical forms and composers. Rarely, his emotions are very clearly depicted musically (exceptions found mostly in slow movements like the Third Movement of his Third Symphony, Second Movement of his Second Piano Quintet and his Second String Quintet etc.).

However, even the composers of more clear straightforward "romantic" spirit, like Chopin, Tchaikovsky or Dvorak, let alone Mahler, are worthy for the musical journey they offer in their excessive (not always) way to make you travel in emotional material masterfully crafted (e.g Dvorak's Cello Concerto).

Parla

 

A work by Brahms that requires some demanding listening.

Brahms g minor Piano Quartet is a complex, difficult massive work altogether, with a First Movement already complicated enough. As for the latter, it is a Sonata Form movement but going further and expanding on the Classical era form.

There are quite a few "novelties" and unusual features: the exposition is developed in almost half of the Movement, while the very dense development lasts less than the half of the exposition and also less than the recapitulation, while the coda is extended and developed enough.

Techincally, there are two main themes in the exposition (based on the Sonata Form rule), but they go much beyond mere motifs. The first theme is developed in two parts, where the second part, moving already in the relative major (B-flat, in the Classical era the second theme should be in the relative major). Besides, there are transitional passages linking the two parts with enough modulations leading to the second theme, now in d minor (the dominant of g minor). This second theme is developed in three parts leading eventually to the Development section.

Brahms, realizing that it would be too much both for the players as well as the listeners to be faced with the same material as the one in the exposition, he selectively chose only the second part of the first theme and the second and third parts of the second theme. The coda also is based on material mostly from the first theme leading eventually to the home key.

It is a great, glorious monumental movement for the composer's Opus but it requires extensive and attentive listening.

It is refreshing that the Second Movement passed the test, Jane. It is the actual novelty and, at the same time, the most Classical, as for the form (ABA in c minor with an A-flat Animato Trio). The 9/8 time provides an extra interesting feature.

As for the slow Movement, the theme is not at all "dreary", although it is highly "romantic". The key feature is that it is a genuinely beautiful melody, with a sense of melancholy but with an inner strength as it moves along. While it could be too much, maybe even dreary, if it has to stay like that for the whole Movement, the composer chose to interrupt it with an assertive, vehement march in straight C major ending it, however, in c minor before it moves to the E-flat, the key of the Movement.

In any case, it is a work with no repeats (all the score has to be played all the way), unlike Mozart's g minor Piano Quartet, but it can be rewarding after repeated listening. I am looking forward to your report on the quite besonderes (unique) Finale.

Parla

(D)ifficult, (C)omplex work

parla wrote:

it is a work with no repeats

Finale m. 80

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