Day 335: Variations: On an Original Theme, On a Hungarian Song, On a Theme by Schumann

BrahmsCD29This is wonderful music.

Instant Favorite status.

These variations are in turns contemplative, clever, and dramatic…full of pathos and verve. In short, these piano variations sound like life itself.

These are some of the most honest compositions I’ve heard from Brahms. Very little pretense here. This is music for the sake of music.

This CD would make perfect background music for writing.

Here’s what I listened to today:

Variations on an Original Theme in D Op. 21 No. 1

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations were composed in 1857. If that is true, Brahms was 24.

Variations on a Hungarian Song in D Op. 21 No. 2

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations may have been composed somewhere between 1853 and 1856, which means Brahms was between 20 and 23.

Variations on a Theme by Schumann in F sharp minor Op. 9

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations were composed in 1854. Brahms was 21.

Here’s who played all 43 short tracks:

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy piano

Day 311: Serenade No. 1

BrahmsCD5He had me at the French horns.

I’m a sucker for the sound of a French horn. To my ears, it’s incredibly mellifluous.

Brahms Serenda No. 1 in D Op. 11
is an absolute delight.

This is the first time (well, with his Symphony No. 4 closely behind) that I’ve been blown away by Brahms’ music. Serenade No. 1 is stirring, emotional, compelling, magical.

It’s music like this that made me want to listen to Classical music in the first place.

I don’t know what critics and fans think of Brahms’ early (1857) composition. But I like it. So who cares what others think, eh?

The musicians on today’s CD are:

Dresdner Philharmonie
Heinz Bongartz, conductor

According to its entry on Wikipedia:

The first serenade was completed in 1857. At that time, Brahms was also working on his First Piano Concerto. Originally scored for wind and string octet and then expanded into a longer work for chamber nonet, the serenade was later adapted for orchestra.

It consists of six movements and lasts slightly less than forty minutes.

Brahms was 24 when he composed Serenade No. 1. Perhaps his age has something to do with the exuberance I hear in this piece of music. It sounds like the work of a guy who’s trying to make a big splash in the Classical music world.

By way of contrast, Brahms’ symphonies were written decades later and they sound it. They’re sedate, even tame, by comparison.

Here’s what I’m listening to – and loving:

See what I mean? How could you not be stirred by that?