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Hyperion Records

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Postcard depicting Brahms composing his Symphony No 1 (c1900). Austrian School, 20th century
Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44331/42
Recording details: May 2006
Wathen Hall, St Paul's School, Barnes, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2007
Total duration: 19 minutes 44 seconds

'The pick of this crop has to be Brahms's Complete Chamber Music from Hyperion. Spanning more than two decades, this box contains the finest, mainly British, performances, some very recent … Brahms's two dozen chamber works are among his greatest achievements, and yield little or nothing in quality to the better known output of Mozart and Beethoven. This box contains much buried treasure' (The Mail on Sunday)

'Immerse yourself in this set of 12 CDs of Brahms's chamber music … in the last 25 years, Hyperion has managed to persuade some of the finest of chamber musicians to reveal their affection for Brahms in recordings of remarkably consistent quality … altogether life affirming music in life enhancing performances: surely one of the best buys of the year?' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This magnificent 12-CD collection … Marc-André Hamelin and the Leopold String Trio find the right gypsy touch in the First Piano Quartet … the Florestan Trio is movingly intense in the piano trios … Lawrence Power's playing of the viola alternative to the clarinet sonatas is magical. And there's much more! A superb bargain' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Stellar artists, fine sound, splendid presentation. Superb!' (

Viola Sonata in E flat major, Op 120 No 2
Summer 1894; first performed by Richard Mühlfeld and Brahms in Berchtesgaden, Meiningen, on 19 September 1894; also for clarinet and piano

Allegro amabile  [8'12]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata in E flat major, Op 120 No 2 is more mellow and intimate in overall effect: any heroic passions are concentrated in the central scherzo. The Allegro amabile with which it begins—the very tempo direction is paradoxical—proves to be the most unassuming of Brahms’s sonata structures, yet one of the subtlest. Its musing, song-like character and explorations of colour and key conceal continuous, logical development and interrelation of themes, and its ending is gentle, marked dolce, tranquillo. In complete contrast, the second movement is a large and unexpectedly powerful scherzo in E flat minor. This Allegro appassionato is Brahms’s last scherzo, in the same key as his first (for piano, Op 4, composed forty-four years earlier) and it has something of the character of a heroic waltz. The function of the trio is assumed by a broad sostenuto melody, whose trend to asymmetric proportions—it has a rather Hungarian character—is echoed in the broad, glowing, fourteen-bar theme of the finale, Andante con moto. The classical poise, solidity of rhythm and opulent harmony of this tune offer enormous potential for the five variations to which Brahms subjects it. In fact these variations are comparatively simple and lyrical, paring the theme down to its smallest note-values and exploring its possibilities in modest contrapuntal textures of almost Mozartian clarity. The music rises to virtuosity only in the brief valedictory display of the closing pages.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2007

Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: Viola Sonatas' (CDA67584)
Brahms: Viola Sonatas
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