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Record date : 18 July 2021

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor Op. 5
Intermezzo in B minor Op. 119 No. 1

Intermezzo in A minor Op. 118 No. 1
Intermezzo in A major Op. 118 No. 2
Intermezzo in B-flat minor Op. 117 No. 2
Rhapsody in G minor Op. 79 No. 2

Brahms was just 20 when he penned his passionate, virtuosic Piano Sonata No. 3, but it’s structurally and emotionally ambitious. After a first movement full of his characteristic shifting rhythms comes an Andante evoking a nocturnal love poem, which after a bounding Scherzo makes a darkened reappearance via an extra ‘Rückblick (looking back)’ movement. The finale then pulls together past ideas. By contrast, the Op. 117 Intermezzi are autumnal-feeling, late-career works. Described by Brahms as “three lullabies for my sorrows”, the first is indeed based on a Scots lullaby, while the third is on a Scots love lament. Sorrows remain for the four Klavierstücke Op. 119: a melancholic B minor Adagio full of falling figures; a nervous E minor Andantino (albeit with a warm central waltz); a C major respite for the graceful third; and while No. 4 opens triumphantly in E flat, it ends in minor-keyed angst.

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