May 10, 2008

Gratuitous Musickal Posting

The noted Viennese musick critic Eduard Hanslick remarked, after listening to a four-hand pre-premiere piano arrangement of Brahms' 4th Symphony:

"Throughout the whole movement I had the impression of two dreadfully intelligent people beating each other up."

I can say truthfully that I know exactly what Hanslick meant. At the same time, I can also say truthfully that there are times when this sort of (really) self-warfare resonates extremely well (not, of course, that I am particularly intelligent - dreadfully or otherwise). I've noticed that it is always when I am very tired and, at the same time, very dissatisfied with myself that Brahms is most appealing to me. Go figure.

Actually, I think it is Brahms' rigid formalism that allows us strident anti-Romanticists an honourable outlet when the mood seizes us.

Posted by Robert at May 10, 2008 08:13 PM | TrackBack

Robbo, if you haven't already, you should become familiar with the three Brahms Piano Quartets and his Piano Quintet. Among the greatest chamber works ever written, they stand proudly alongside the late Beethoven Quartets; I absolutely adore them. E-mail me if you want suggestions regarding recordings.

Posted by: The Bovina Bloviator at May 10, 2008 11:53 PM

I'll echo Bovina bigtime. As I read your post, Robbo, I particularly thought of the Piano Quintet, which is the most effective angst-processor I've ever listened to. (It's also Condi Rice's favorite piece of music, btw.)

In addition to the wonderful Piano Quartets, Brahms' late Sonatas for piano and viola (or piano and clarinet, but I prefer the viola arrangements), Op. 120, Nos. 1 & 2, are really worth getting to know. For a great recording, try:

Posted by: ScurvyOaks at May 12, 2008 03:08 PM