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Rhapsodie, op. 119, no. 4 in E-flat (Brahms), 4.57

Rhapsodie (in Eb major), Op. 119, No. 4 (orchestrated March 2008) is one of four character pieces for solo piano written by Johannes Brahms in German in 1893. The collection is the last composition for solo piano by Brahms. Together with the six pieces from Op. 118, Op. 119 was premiered in London in January of 1894.  Each of the first three pieces of Op. 117, 118 and 119 begin with an Intermezzo (Op. 118 I have also orchestrated).  The last piece of the set is a Rhapsody (or free form work) that is common published with the spelling of Rhapsodie taken from the German spelling in many publications).  

The Rhapsodie is apparent in its incorporating mixed rhythms and phrases, as over 60 bars of music are in 5-bar phrases but written in 4/4 time.   The ‘’grazioso‘’ second theme (starting bar 93) is constructed from eight-bar phrases that do not subdivide into four plus four, but into three plus two plus three.   The piece ends in E-flat minor, the parallel minor key to where it started (E-flat major). While it is not unusual to end a minor-key composition in the parallel major, it is much less common to find a piece ended in this manner. 

This orchestration is a vivacious and exciting transcription that retains all the nuance, tempo, phrasing, articulations and dynamics that make this a very detailed reconstruction set largely in the orchestral style that Brahms would have used, esp. regarding the Brass.  Many advanced pianists find this piece rewarding for it’s orchestral color inherent the piano piece as it desperately calls for orchestrations and appears to have crossing voices in which Brahms may have intended it to be orchestral in nature before or during the composition of this piano piece.   With stark and brooding moments, light, arpeggiated filigree, cross-rhythmic propulsion that catapults the piece to the final climax, this orchestration captures these essential Brahms sounds in his own stylistic orchestration techniques.

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