Hyperion Records

Variations and Fugue on a theme by G F Handel, Op 24
composer
completed in Hamburg in September 1861; dedicated to Clara Schumann on her birthday, 13 September 1861; the theme is from Handel's

Recordings
'Beethoven & Brahms: Variations' (CDH55201)
Beethoven & Brahms: Variations
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDH55201  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service  
'Solomon – The first HMV recordings' (APR5503)
Solomon – The first HMV recordings
APR5503  Download only  
'Brahms: The Complete Variations' (CDA67777)
Brahms: The Complete Variations
Buy by post £5.25 CDA67777  2CDs for the price of 1 Please, someone, buy me …  
Details
Movement 01: Aria
Track 1 on CDH55201 [1'03] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 02: Variation 1
Track 2 on CDH55201 [0'52] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 03: Variation 2
Track 3 on CDH55201 [0'52] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 04: Variation 3
Track 4 on CDH55201 [0'52] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 05: Variation 4
Track 5 on CDH55201 [0'49] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 06: Variation 5
Track 6 on CDH55201 [1'24] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 07: Variation 6
Track 7 on CDH55201 [1'18] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 08: Variation 7
Track 8 on CDH55201 [0'36] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 09: Variation 8
Track 9 on CDH55201 [0'38] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 10: Variation 9
Track 10 on CDH55201 [1'28] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 11: Variation 10
Track 11 on CDH55201 [0'39] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 12: Variation 11
Track 12 on CDH55201 [1'08] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 13: Variation 12
Track 13 on CDH55201 [1'13] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 14: Variation 13
Track 14 on CDH55201 [1'45] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 15: Variation 14
Track 15 on CDH55201 [0'38] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 16: Variation 15
Track 16 on CDH55201 [0'48] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 17: Variation 16
Track 17 on CDH55201 [0'35] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 18: Variation 17
Track 18 on CDH55201 [0'41] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 19: Variation 18
Track 19 on CDH55201 [0'57] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 20: Variation 19
Track 20 on CDH55201 [1'08] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 21: Variation 20
Track 21 on CDH55201 [1'16] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 22: Variation 21
Track 22 on CDH55201 [1'01] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 23: Variation 22
Track 23 on CDH55201 [1'06] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 24: Variation 23
Track 24 on CDH55201 [0'34] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 25: Variation 24
Track 25 on CDH55201 [0'35] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 26: Variation 25
Track 26 on CDH55201 [0'41] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 27: Fuga
Track 27 on CDH55201 [5'12] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Part 1: Aria – Variations 1 to 25
Track 2 on CDA67777 CD1 [21'41] 2CDs for the price of 1 Please, someone, buy me …
Part 2: Fugue
Track 3 on CDA67777 CD1 [4'58] 2CDs for the price of 1 Please, someone, buy me …
Section 01: Aria
Track 6 on APR5503 [0'57] Download only
Section 02: Variations 1 to 3
Track 7 on APR5503 [2'03] Download only
Section 03: Variations 4 to 6
Track 8 on APR5503 [2'39] Download only
Section 04: Variations 7 to 9
Track 9 on APR5503 [2'49] Download only
Section 05: Variations 10 to 12
Track 10 on APR5503 [2'05] Download only
Section 06: Variations 13 to 15
Track 11 on APR5503 [2'58] Download only
Section 07: Variations 16 to 18
Track 12 on APR5503 [1'38] Download only
Section 08: Variations 19 to 21
Track 13 on APR5503 [2'39] Download only
Section 09: Variations 22 to 24
Track 14 on APR5503 [2'30] Download only
Section 10: Fugue
Track 15 on APR5503 [4'39] Download only

Variations and Fugue on a theme by G F Handel, Op 24
EnglishFranηaisDeutsch
The climax of Brahms’s activities as a composer of piano variations came with the Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel, Op 24. Completed in Hamburg in September 1861 and dedicated to Clara Schumann on her birthday, this is one of the summits of his entire keyboard output, showing him at the height of his powers. It was also—and hardly by coincidence—Brahms’s first major compositional statement following his 1860 ‘Manifesto’ against the composers of Liszt’s ‘New German School’, who were advocating the literary tone-poem and Wagnerian music-drama as the ‘Music of the Future’. Brahms’s Op 24 is a systematic summation of the mastery he had gained through intensive study during the previous decade. The choice of a Baroque theme, the strictness of the variations, the richness and scope of the piano technique, and the lavish display of contrapuntal learning in the concluding Fugue, all combine to present Brahms in the role of preserver and representative of tradition. Even Wagner saw its significance when Brahms played it to him, commenting grandly that it showed what could still be done with the old forms by someone who knew how to use them.

The theme is the Air from Handel’s B flat major harpsichord suite, published in 1733 (Brahms, the passionate bibliophile, owned a first edition). This dapper little tune has the balanced phraseology, the structural and harmonic simplicity, of an ideal variation subject. Brahms’s twenty-five variations confine themselves to the key of B flat, with occasional excursions into the tonic minor. But this apparent constraint, while imposing a powerful structural unity, provides Brahms with a framework on which to establish and explore a kaleidoscopic range of moods and characters. Several of the variations form pairs, the second intensifying and developing the characteristics of the first, while the last three create a climactic introduction to the concluding Fugue, on a subject derived from Handel’s theme. This continues the variation process in an altogether more ‘open’ form in which Brahms reconciles the linear demands of fugal form with the harmonic capabilities of the contemporary piano. The grand sweep of the structure, however, is never lost sight of, and the Fugue issues in a coda of granitic splendour.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

Track-specific metadata
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Details for APR5503 track 12
Variations 16 to 18
Artists
ISRC
GB-SAM-94-50312
Duration
1'38
Recording date
August 1942
Recording venue
HMV, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Solomon – The first HMV recordings (APR5503)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: July 1994
    Download only
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