- Composer: Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 -- 3 April 1897) - Performer: Peter Rösel - Year of recording: 1974
Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1, written in 1852-1853.
00:00 - I. Allegro 08:02 - II. Andante (nach einem altdeutschen Minneliede) 13:16 - III. Allegro molto e con fuoco -- Più mosso 17:58 - IV. Allegro con fuoco -- Presto non troppo ed agitato
On 30 September 1853, the 20-year-old Brahms played a number of his keyboard works for Robert Schumann. Among these were both the First and Second Piano Sonatas, which Schumann hailed as "veiled symphonies." Although published as Op. 1, the Sonata No. 1 in C major is actually the fourth piano sonata Brahms is known to have composed; the third was published as Op. 2, and the first two were evidently destroyed (partly because Brahms was called 'The New Mozart' after music critics had heard them). The enormous scale and breadth of this sonata were probably what Schumann had in mind in drawing his symphonic analogy. Cast in four long movements, the Sonata No. 1 is a remarkably cohesive and effective work for so young and inexperienced a composer.
Aside from the sonata's scope, another feature that Schumann might have found particularly attractive is the folk flavor of the Andante second movement, a set of variations on what Brahms believed to be an old German minnelied. (The authenticity of the song has since been brought into question.) Schumann was also almost certainly struck by Brahms' early mastery of large-scale sonata form, a particular concern of Schumann's throughout his own compositional career.
The first movement is in a fairly conventional sonata-allegro form, but uses the technique of thematic transformation pioneered by Liszt and Berlioz. Here, the movement's main themes are altered in character and rhythm as the music proceeds, as opposed to a Classical fragmentation and recombination of motives. The following movement is a Beethovenian scherzo based on a motive from the final bars of the Andante, a derivation that creates a sense of union between the central movements. This technique is continued in the Rondo finale, whose opening is derived from a transformation of material from the first movement. In this sonata Brahms foreshadows many of the characteristics of his mature piano works, including formal mastery, thematic development and transformation, and a distinctive if somewhat thick virtuoso keyboard scoring that owes surprisingly little to Liszt and Chopin.
The sonata is dedicated to Joseph Joachim.
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Johannes Brahms wrote his first published piano sonata in 1852-3, but it was not the first piece...