Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music
CDS44331/42 12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Movement 1: Allegro ma non troppo
Movement 2: Andante, ma moderato
Movement 3: Scherzo: Allegro molto
Movement 4: Rondo: Poco allegretto e grazioso
The following Andante is a set of variations—another ancient form much loved by Brahms and of which he was a true master. The music is wonderfully imagined for the forces available and carefully avoids textures that could be mistaken for those of the string quartet. The first variation employs the time-honoured device of increasing the sense of movement by subdivisions of the music’s pulse.
The Scherzo is both vigorous and pithy, characteristics which are unusually continued in the trio section. Its similarity to the trio of the Scherzo in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has not escaped comment by critics.
The final Rondo owes not a little to Schubert and was criticized by Joachim for not being forceful enough in its concluding bars. He also, not without some justice, wished that Brahms had been able to achieve greater contrast between the first and second subjects. Nevertheless it concludes a fine work, not to be dismissed lightly, and certainly not as disdainfully as did Brahms himself in a letter to Clara Schumann which accompanied the manuscript of the first three movements. In it he entreated her to ‘burn the trash’ in order not to have the bother of returning it.
from notes by Peter Lamb © 2000