Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music
CDS44331/42 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 1: Allegro appassionato
Movement 2: Andante un poco adagio
Movement 3: Allegretto grazioso
Movement 4: Vivace
Although the slow second movement in A flat gives the impression of dreamy ease, it is also economical, and its return to the main theme through a foreign key characteristically saves space as it suggests leisure (one thinks of the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No 2). With the lyrical Allegretto grazioso we stay in A flat, and the F minor of the trio, with its syncopated accompaniment, is the last extended use of the tonic minor in the whole work.
The exuberant finale, Vivace, is in F major and its second subject looks like being one of those gloriously expansive Brahmsian themes in swinging triplets. But with the economy typical of this work, Brahms does not allow it to spread and it is soon invaded by terser action. At the end we feel that, although the sonata has been officially in F minor (Beethovens barbarous key), it has been composed more with pleasure than pain.
from notes by Robert Simpson © 1986