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Classics Explained: BRAHMS - Piano Concerto No. 2 (Siepmann)


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Classics Explained: BRAHMS - Piano Concerto No. 2 (Siepmann)

Classics Explained
An Introduction to... BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2

Author and Narrator: Jeremy Siepmann
2 CDs, including the complete work
142-page booklet
Naxos 8.558030-31
ISBN: 1-84379-095-5

There is perhaps no great piano concerto grander than the Brahms B flat. With the spaciousness of a symphony, the drama of an opera, the intimacy of a lullaby and the intertwining raptures of the greatest love songs, it touches on almost every emotion with extraordinary immediacy and power. Its virtuosity is spell-binding, yet always substantial. But how is it made? How does it grow? What holds it together? Here we explore the music from the inside out, and learn how it develops into a masterpiece.

Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat was written in 1881 - more than two decades after his first. It contains some of the most horrendously difficult music ever written for a pianist, according to Jeremy Siepmann, yet it opens in carefree, buoyant mode. This accessible analysis allows the listener to get to grips with the massive work in its totality. And, as always, in the comprehensive booklet Siepmann sets the background to the composer, the work, the period and the form.

Disc 1

Brahms, Johannes

  An Introduction to ... BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2
1.   Introduction; opening horn call and piano's answer 00:01:50
2.   Rising three - note scalewise pattern 00:00:25
3.   Quicker, descending six - note 'answer' 00:00:18
4.   Second, answering phrase 00:00:32
5.   First Main Theme completed by orchestra 00:00:50
6.   Peace shattered as piano bursts back in like a tiger 00:01:24
7.   Variant of opening horn call in bass 00:00:19
8.   Orchestra returns; beginning of Exposition proper 00:02:25
9.   Big, 'singing' theme in orchestra; piano 'forgotten' 00:00:41
10.   Call to arms by strings; marshalling of orchestral forces 00:01:03
11.   Piano re - enters fry with massive expansion of opening figure 00:00:48
12.   Piano 'explores' two main facets of opening theme 00:00:45
13.   Transition. sense of key weakened. Piano and orchestra come together 00:01:07
14.   Piano and orchestra 'argue' over speed of thematic three - note rise 00:00:41
15.   Piano and orchestra in friendly dialogue before piano falls away 00:01:28
16.   'Winged' harmonic shadow of pure pianistic tone - colour 00:00:45
17.   New 'transitional' theme from orchestra developed by piano 00:01:51
18.   After indecision and discussion, the mood suddenly turns playful 00:00:26
19.   Reminder of Second Main Theme in its original form 00:00:43
20.   Ttransfomation of Second Main Theme by piano 00:00:40
21.   Piano hijacks orchestra's 'call to arms' 00:00:43
22.   Piano and orchestra, now allies, explore theme, but with piano leading 00:01:08
23.   Dramatic eruption of orchestra leads to the Development section 00:01:13
24.   Pianistic 'tiger' replaced by gentle reflective, soft - spoken poet 00:00:30
25.   Transformed 'tiger' theme amicably shared by piano and orchestra 00:00:44
26.   An apparently new theme - but Battlle Hymn of the Republic 00:00:41
27.   Brief, downward - driving section prepares for the Recapitulation 00:00:54
28.   On the threshold of the Recapitulation 00:00:54
29.   Recapitulation: The Magical Return 00:01:06
30.   From Gate - crashing Tiger to Celestial Tenderness - and a surprise 00:01:17
31.   And unexpected and portentus change of mood, suggesting tragedy 00:01:01
32.   Summation 00:00:30
33.   First Movement (Complete) 00:17:16
34.   Second Movement: The upward - driving opening gambit, piano alone 00:00:13
35.   Downward - driving answer from lower strings 00:00:27
36.   Theme vs Melody 00:00:58
37.   Eerie, unharmonised, 'white' sound of Second Theme 00:00:45
38.   Second Theme taken up and developed by piano 00:01:25
39.   Expectation and surprise; harmonic fluidity and intensifying drama 00:01:40
40.   Return (and transformation) of Theme Two 00:00:41
41.   Theme One returns in orchestra; Theme Three emerges in major mode 00:01:00
42.   Sequence of fragmentary episodes begins with unexpected fanfare 00:00:58
43.   Variant of Theme Three in piano 00:00:36
44.   Rescored variant of 'fanfare' theme; from grandeur to solemnity 00:00:21
45.   Rhapsodic variant of fanfare, this time for piano alone 00:00:24
46.   Recapitulation of opening, with piano and orchestra reversing roles 00:01:07
47.   Theme Two transformed by new instrumentation 00:00:36
48.   Cue and Second Movement (Complete) 00:09:23

Disc 2

Brahms, Johannes

  An Introduction to ... BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2
1.   Introduction, cue and First Main Theme 00:01:53
2.   Theme One taken up by strings and solo oboe; piano's entry 00:01:20
3.   Complex variant of Theme One with very different speed and rhythm 00:00:42
4.   Orchestra and piano in mixed variants of Theme One, now intensified 00:01:10
5.   Theme Two, hushed and 'tuneless', with piano, clarinets and strings 00:01:28
6.   Oboe Theme returns, now delicately embroidered by the piano 00:00:46
7.   Cue and Third Movement (Complete) 00:11:50
8.   Finale: Introduction, cue and Main Theme 00:00:57
9.   Violins take up tune, with winds and piano accompanying 00:00:24
10.   Piano introduces Part 2 of the main theme 00:00:37
11.   Part 3 of the theme, led by piano, in 'fiercely' self - confident mood 00:00:54
12.   First Episode, Part 1 00:00:47
13.   First Episode, Part 2 00:00:23
14.   Piano hands theme over to clarinets and bassoons 00:00:15
15.   First Episode, Part 3, in piano, first; then flutes and oboes 00:00:40
16.   Strings and flutes take theme, with bubbling commentary from piano 00:00:28
17.   Tipsy dancers (piano and winds) return, tiring; strings take over 00:00:38
18.   In the central Episode, the orchestra throws down a dramatic challenge 00:00:28
19.   ... to which the piano duly responds with a stormy outburst 00:00:10
20.   Piano kick - starts run - up to final section in a variant of the main theme 00:00:41
21.   Orchestra sets off on jaunty march, later joined by the piano 00:00:25
22.   Piano propels orchestra into final section 00:00:46
23.   Summation and cue to the movement as a whole 00:00:22
24.   Finale (Complete) 00:09:08

Total Playing Time: 01:44:44

Brahms, Johannes

Siepmann, Jeremy

Label: Naxos Educational

Genre: Music Education

Period: Romantic

Catalogue No: 8.558030-31

Barcode: 0636943803028

Physical Release: 05/2001

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