Tablet - Portrait

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Johannes Brahms

This Intermezzo in C major is the shortest of the Piano Pieces (4) comprising Brahms' Op. 119 set, lasting only about a minute-and-a-half. It is also the happiest, but for some the relatively brief emotional high expressed here will only reinforce their view that the composer could not write a substantial work of joyous character in the latter stages of his career. Brahms' sister Elise and his close friend Elizabeth von Herzogenberg had died shortly before he wrote this set, leaving him bereft and perhaps serving as the springboard that made his last piano compositions generally reflective and darker. Marked Grazioso e giocoso, this piece is quite lively, an usual feature for Brahms since his intermezzos are usually slow or moderately paced. The main theme is chipper in its jaunty chords and tricky rhythmic features, seeming to bounce along in a carefree manner. Just when the music seems detoured toward a more serious character, it turns playful and almost childlike. After further elaboration on the theme, variants of it are heard and the piece ends in a mostly subdued manner.