Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Johannes Brahms

Among the 20 pieces comprising Brahms' last four sets for piano are 14 intermezzos, including the three in Op. 117. An intermezzo is a movement, of course, framed by other movements. Brahms never intended for these piano works to be thought of that way. Instead, he viewed them as interludes from life's tribulations, a time for reflection and healing. The three works here are all largely sedate, mellow creations, though beneath the surface of the last two there are moments of darkness and tension.

Marked Andante non troppo e con molta espressione, the Intermezzo in B flat minor opens with a lovely, quite memorable theme of Romantic temperament. Though its mood is gentle and warm, its music develops a measure of tension before it reaches the utterly serene alternate theme, another beautiful creation by Brahms. The music darkens as the main theme is developed in succeeding episodes, but calm returns once more with the reappearance of the alternate theme, though the work ends in an ambivalent mood. Lasting about five minutes, this intermezzo is one of Brahms' more popular solo piano works.