Hyperion Records

Intermezzos, Op 117
composer
1892

Recordings
'Brahms: Piano Quartets' (CDA67471/2)
Brahms: Piano Quartets
'Fantasien' (CKD441)
Fantasien
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £18.00ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £18.00 CKD441  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Eileen Joyce – The complete Parlophone & Columbia solo recordings' (APR7502)
Eileen Joyce – The complete Parlophone & Columbia solo recordings
MP3 £16.49FLAC £16.49ALAC £16.49 APR7502  Download only  
'Michael Zadora – The complete recordings' (APR6008)
Michael Zadora – The complete recordings
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 APR6008  for the price of 1 — Download only  
'Moura Lympany – The HMV Recordings, 1947-1952' (APR6011)
Moura Lympany – The HMV Recordings, 1947-1952
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 APR6011  for the price of 1 — Download only  
'Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings' (APR7504)
Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings
MP3 £16.49FLAC £16.49ALAC £16.49 APR7504  Download only  
Details
No 1 in E flat major: Andante moderato
Track 16 on APR7504 CD2 [4'56] Download only
Track 5 on CDA67471/2 CD2 [5'03] 2CDs
arranger

Track 4 on CKD441 [4'25] Download only
No 2 in B flat minor: Andante non troppo e con molto espressione
Track 24 on APR6008 CD1 [3'13] for the price of 1 — Download only
Track 17 on APR6011 CD1 [4'51] for the price of 1 — Download only
Track 17 on APR7502 CD2 [4'24] Download only
Track 6 on CDA67471/2 CD2 [4'40] 2CDs
arranger

Track 5 on CKD441 [4'20] Download only
No 3 in C sharp minor: Andante con moto

Intermezzos, Op 117
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Three Intermezzi Op 117 are products of the final phase of Brahms’s creativity. They belong to the astonishing late harvest of short piano pieces that he composed in 1892–3 and published in four collections, Opp 116 to 119. Like the quartets they were written very much with Clara Schumann in mind, for she was destined as the first pianist to see them; but their moods are autumnal, as befits the utterances of nearly forty years of love and friendship. Op 117 could be considered a triptych of lullabies. The first, in E flat, is headed by lines from an actual Scots lullaby (the Border Ballad ‘Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament’) in the German translation of Johann Gottfried Herder—and its unforgettable tune, a middle voice gently rocked within a repeated octave span, fits the words like a glove. (This wordless setting of a Scots original parallels Brahms’s early D minor Ballade, Op 10 No 1, after the Scots ballad ‘Edward’). The central section descends to a dark E flat minor tonality which increases the poignancy of the lulling reprise, with its cunningly interwoven imitation.

The second Intermezzo, in B flat minor, wrings music of plaintive delicacy from a simple falling arpeggio figure that melts, with fluid grace, through a succession of tonalities: and the piece traces a miniature sonata design, with a more smoothly flowing second subject in D flat. Development and reprise merge into one another through spiralling arpeggio figuration: the coda finally imposes tonal stability in the shape of an uneasy pedal F, over which the second idea dies away.

Like the first piece the third Intermezzo, in C sharp minor, evokes a ballad character, though this time without a specifically indicated subject. This is a comparatively spacious movement, beginning sombrely and sotto voce with a quintessentially Brahmsian theme presented in severe octaves. On later appearances this melody becomes an inner voice against a rich harmonic background; there is a strongly contrasting middle section in A major, whose gently syncopated figuration and octave displacements create a twilit world of almost impressionistic gleams and half-lights. At once one of the darkest and most beautiful of Brahms’s late piano pieces, it is now believed to be an unacknowledged setting of another of Herder’s translations of Scottish poems, a love-lament beginning ‘Oh woe! Oh woe, deep in the valley …’, which Brahms had copied out on the same sheet as ‘Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament’. But all three of these pieces seem to have had some secret significance for him: they were, he told his friend Rudolf von der Leyen, ‘three lullabies for my sorrows’.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2006

Track-specific metadata
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Details for APR7502 disc 2 track 17
No 2 in B flat minor: Andante non troppo e con molto espressione
Artists
ISRC
GB-SAM-12-50217
Duration
4'24
Recording date
24 April 1939
Recording venue
London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Eileen Joyce – The complete Parlophone & Columbia solo recordings (APR7502)
    Disc 2 Track 17
    Release date: September 2011
    Deletion date: April 2014
    Download only
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