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Intermezzo, Op. 119, No. 1 in B-minor (Brahms), 6.56

Intermezzo in B minor, Op. 119, No. 1 (May 2009) is a solo piano work by Johannes Brahms written in 1893.  The collection (“Klavierstücke” also sometimes called in German) is the last piano solo music written by the prolific composer.  

In a letter from May 1893 to Clara Schumann, Brahms wrote:

“I am tempted to copy out a small piano piece for you, because I would like to know how you agree with it. It is teeming with dissonances! These may [well] be correct and [can] be explained—but maybe they won’t please your palate, and now I wished, they would be less correct, but more appetizing and agreeable to your taste. The little piece is exceptionally melancholic and ‘to be played very slowly’ is not an understatement. Every bar and every note must sound like a ritard[ando], as if one wanted to suck melancholy out of each and every one, lustily and with pleasure out of these very dissonances! Good Lord, this description will [surely] awaken your desire!

Clara Schumann was enthusiastic and asked him to send the remaining pieces of his new work.

The words ‘melancholy’ and ‘with pleasure’ aptly describe the atmosphere evoked by the opening harmonies of the first intermezzo. In fact, no clear tonality can be perceived in the first three bars. The first chord, for example, could be a B minor 7th chord superimposed on an E minor triad. The entire first section (bars 1-16) eludes a definite statement of the tonic, while the coda (bars 55-67) ends clearly in B minor.

The middle section of the piece (bars 17-46) is in D major, the relative major. It is characterized by more consonant harmonies, a less polyphonic texture and a waltz rhythm. [source: Wikipedia]

This orchestration makes careful, the use of all articulations, rubato markings, dynamics and all lines, voice crossings and harmonies so as to remain consistent with the compositional intent of Johannes Brahms’ original solo piano work.  

Scored for Full Orchestra, this orchestration is thoughtfully prepared and carefully balanced to allow for maximum clarity and attention to the composer’s music.

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