A Wonderful Piece of Music by Brahms

by David Clayton on March 28, 2014

12111201I have been doing a regular series of pieces of music that have moved me with their beauty. The first was Schubert’s Impromptus, the last one was about the rock band Genesis. In each case I had a long story to tell about the impact it had on my. In this case, I have no story tell other than the fact that I have always enjoyed it. It is Brahm’s String Sextet No 1.

When I first had an interest in classical music in my early 20s I always thought of chamber music as a scratchy sounding and inferior version of orchestral music. In time I came to enjoy it more and more. The separate voices are much more discernible that in orchestral music, I find. Also, because it is a lot cheaper to put on, it is possible to small intimate concerts in small halls (London’s Wigmore Hall was a favourite of mine) where it is possible for me to afford seats close to the performers. I began to enjoy chamber music live particularly as a result. I saw a wonderful performance of this Brahms piece at St John’s church in Smith Square, Westminster about 10 years ago.

My introduction to it was a recording of a piano transcription of the second movement made by Brahms himself, I am not aware that he did the same for the rest of the sextet, so presumably he was particularly attached to this movement. The recording I heard was by Emanuel Ax. I couldn’t find it on YouTube so here is a recording by Idel Biret, the Turkish pianist who is known for her interpretations of the Romantic repertoire and Brahms especially.

Here is a recording of the same piece with six stringed instruments.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy Feeman March 30, 2014 at 8:39 am

All I can say is Aahh, Brahms, so beautiful! I love the Piano Concerto #2. His piano music is very difficult to play for while you hear one or two melodies, there are many notes being played. The Opus 117, 118 and 119 Intermezzos are also beautiful, the list goes on and on.


David Clayton March 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

Yes, I nearly did the Intermezzo Op 117 No 1 in E flat (now that I look it up!), such a beautiful lullaby. The version I heard was by Glenn Gould and you often hear him humming but on this recording of Brahms it was particularly audible on the CD. I think think he just couldn’t help himself…


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