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Alfred's "Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces": Caveat Emptor #2744094
06/13/18 09:25 AM
06/13/18 09:25 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 61
Texas
Dr. Rogers Offline OP
Full Member
Dr. Rogers  Offline OP
Full Member
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 61
Texas
Greetings, everyone. I just wanted to post a rant/warning about an edition of Brahms I recently purchased. I needed an decent edition of Brahms' Intermezzo Op.76 No. 7 for an upcoming ABRSM Grade 8 exam. (I've been working from a printout from IMSLP, but I don't want any possible hiccups on exam day due to the printout.) I have nothing against Brahms, but he isn't exactly my favorite composer. I probably won't be playing much Brahms after the Grade 8 exam, so I figured I'd go with an inexpensive edition. Now I'm regretting it.

Sometimes you get what you pay for in music editions.

My darling wife purchased me the clothbound Henle editions of the Beethoven sonatas and Bach's WTC, but I figured since I only needed one Brahms piece and only for six months at that, I'd be okay with a cheaper edition. I saw Alfred's inexpensive edition Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces and figured I couldn't go wrong with it. I used several Alfred books back in the 80s and 90s, and always found them to be physically high quality (if perhaps a bit over-edited at times). So we pulled the trigger on the Alfred.

It arrived yesterday, and I was instantly disappointed. The whole book is flimsy. The paper is thin, the typesetting looks amateurish, and the print quality leaves somewhat to be desired. I had to wrestle with the book to get it to sit open on the music desk. (I know I could have it comb bound, but that would be throwing good money after bad as we say in the South.) This is a far cry from the Alfred books I used as a child. Thankfully, the editing appears to be minimal and tasteful (and in the case of Intermezzo 76/7, pretty much what I would have done myself). It will be sufficient for the exam, but I will think twice about buying Alfred again.

I should have bit the bullet and bought the Henle edition of Brahms' Klavierstücke. It's considerably more expensive, but at least it would have been better quality and more pleasurable to play from. And I'm going to look a laughingstock on exam day, with my clothbound Henle Bach, followed by my clothbound Henle Beethoven, and then pulling out this el cheapo Brahms.

Has Alfred gone downhill since the early 90s, or have their larger editions always been like this? Or is this typical, and I'm just spoiled by Henle?


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
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Re: Alfred's "Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces": Caveat Emptor [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2744117
06/13/18 11:00 AM
06/13/18 11:00 AM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 790
Westford, MA
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member
the nosy ape  Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 790
Westford, MA
I am surprised to hear of your disappointment with the Alfred editions. I have purchased Alfred editions in the past few years and have found them to be of good quality. Both the paper and binding are decent enough and are comparable to ones that I have that are over 40 years old. Admittedly, their quality is no match for Henle. Does Alfred have different quality levels? Or maybe they recently instituted cost cutting measures?

Re: Alfred's "Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces": Caveat Emptor [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2744125
06/13/18 11:24 AM
06/13/18 11:24 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,260
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
Gold Subscriber
BruceD  Offline
Gold Subscriber
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,260
Victoria, BC
Dr. R ...

In your position, not planning to play much Brahms in the future, I would have bought the Henle Op. 76 rather than an edition with all the "shorter pieces." That said, you may find your tastes change in the future, and you may find yourself reading through some of the other shorter pieces by Brahms and (could it be possible?) falling in love with some of them. There are some absolute gems in the Opp. 116, 117, 118 and 119.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Alfred's "Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces": Caveat Emptor [Re: BruceD] #2744130
06/13/18 11:39 AM
06/13/18 11:39 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 61
Texas
Dr. Rogers Offline OP
Full Member
Dr. Rogers  Offline OP
Full Member
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 61
Texas
Originally Posted by the nosy ape
I am surprised to hear of your disappointment with the Alfred editions. I have purchased Alfred editions in the past few years and have found them to be of good quality. Both the paper and binding are decent enough and are comparable to ones that I have that are over 40 years old. Admittedly, their quality is no match for Henle. Does Alfred have different quality levels? Or maybe they recently instituted cost cutting measures?


I'm right with you, ape. I was surprised myself, having had great experience with Alfred in the past. I'm starting to wonder if, perhaps, I received a counterfeit. But who would bother counterfeiting such a thing?

Originally Posted by BruceD
In your position, not planning to play much Brahms in the future, I would have bought the Henle Op. 76 rather than an edition with all the "shorter pieces." That said, you may find your tastes change in the future, and you may find yourself reading through some of the other shorter pieces by Brahms and (could it be possible?) falling in love with some of them. There are some absolute gems in the Opp. 116, 117, 118 and 119.


I probably should have bought the Henle Op. 76, even though that would still have been more expensive than the Alfred. I got the Alfred for less than $10 including shipping, so at least I didn't loose a lot of money. ;-)

I wouldn't be too shocked if my musical tastes shift over the years. They have before. When I was young, I couldn't stand Baroque stuff, and only wanted to play Classical and early Romantic material. Now I love Baroque material and sight-read fugues for fun. (Is that called masochism?) The later Romantic repertoire as a whole doesn't move me all that much, aside from the occasional Chopin. But I suppose I will need something to play after I have mastered all of Bach's 48 and Beethoven's sonatas, right? (No, I'm not ambitious, not at all!)


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
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Re: Alfred's "Brahms - The Shorter Piano Pieces": Caveat Emptor [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2744139
06/13/18 12:15 PM
06/13/18 12:15 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,154
Oakland
B
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
BDB  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,154
Oakland
I do not like the layout of the Henle Brahms. Schirmers is better.


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