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Which Brahms? #2952078 02/27/20 05:57 AM
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Franz Beebert Offline OP
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I need to learn one of the late opuses of Brahms and was thinking of either Op 116 or Op 119. So which of these to would you suggest for me to learn? Technique is not a problem. Which would suit best with other pieces I have learnt recently? (Op 109 by Beethoven, D 845 by Schubert, Barcarolle by Chopin and Waldszenen by Schumann)
And which of the two works do you prefer?

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Re: Which Brahms? [Re: Franz Beebert] #2952080 02/27/20 06:06 AM
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I do like Brahms. Either opus would be fantastic to learn or you could select pieces from each. I do not think it is possible to recommend which opus would be better based on your pieces. My only suggestion would be try not to play pieces if played many times before in the group. That is if you are playing for a group. There has been a pattern in my little piano group that everyone is playing the same brahms pieces (opus 118 no 2 is played every time and other common ones are opus 117 no 1, rhapsody g minor and there are some intermezzo played frequently). I have never heard any from opus 116 or opus 119 so it would be interested to hear these. I wonder why they are not played. So yes anything in them would be good. I admire you have the skills that you can play an entire opus of Brahms - it took me a while to play a few pieces !

Re: Which Brahms? [Re: Franz Beebert] #2952087 02/27/20 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Franz Beebert

And which of the two works do you prefer?

I prefer Op.119, of course (because I learnt it a long time ago with my last teacher smirk ). Op.116 doesn't do much for me whistle.

If you're playing the complete set in one go, Op.119 hangs together quite well, like a proper suite or even 'sonata', much better than Op.116, which doesn't work as a set, and is more for 'pick 'n mix'.

Actually, of Op.116 - Op.119, only the last set makes complete sense when played in one go.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Which Brahms? [Re: Franz Beebert] #2952134 02/27/20 09:44 AM
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Try Op. 116 No 1 (Capriccio in D minor), that one is very impressive - one of my favourite pieces by Brahms.

Re: Which Brahms? [Re: Franz Beebert] #2952427 02/28/20 05:13 AM
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Franz Beebert Offline OP
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More thoughts please! It seems like the general opinion not only here is that people prefer Op 119 as music but think it is still better to learn Op 116 for some reason? No love for Op 116?

Re: Which Brahms? [Re: Franz Beebert] #2952525 02/28/20 11:25 AM
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Hi, Franz! A few thoughts:

1 If you're planning on presenting either 116 or 119 as an entire set, then I think 119 is the easier of the two. If nothing else, 119 has only 4 highly contrasting pieces, whereas 116 has 7, with 3 slow ones in a row prior to the concluding Intermezzo.

2 Like others here, though, I think 116 has been seriously underplayed relative to 118 and 117 -- and again if nothing else, you may want to program it precisely for that reason. The music is IMO easily equivalent to its 117-119 siblings, and every piece in the 116-119 series is just a "treasure chest" of late Brahms -- you just can't go wrong.

3 As an alternative, you might want to consider presenting pieces from each opus, fashioning some sort of "bouquet". My own curmudgeonly request, though: please do NOT present 118-2 without 118-1, or 118-5 without 118-4 -- it is so clear in my own mind that they should exist as a pair that I find it downright irritating to have them separated.

Good luck with the program!


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