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CD Cover format.

Brahms, Price: 9.29 Euros
Each additional coverpak (single CD) is only 8.29 Euros and each additional coverbook (double CD) is only 14.49 Euros.

Variations Op. 56b
Variations Op. 23
Sonata Op. 34b

The famous "Variazioni" of Brahms on themes of Haydn and Schumann, finally presented with a guide which makes it easy to follow them one after the other. And at the piano two great Italian artists: Michele Campanella and Stefania Cafaro.

Excerpts from the original CD booklet:

Variations op. 23 on a Theme by Schumann for Pianoforte and Four Hands
This is a piece which is imbued with deep tenderness. It was composed in great secrecy a
nd privacy, as the context itself required. It is perhaps the case that these variations were not intended for public performance and that Brahms wanted to confine them to the intimacy of an evening with friends in memory of the man who had provided him with so much inspiration.
Schumann declared that the theme ("Giester-Thema") had been supplied to him by angels sent by Schubert and Mendelssohn. At that time he was in a sanitorium in Endenich and it is possible that the vision which supplied this inspiration was experienced during the crisis of the night of 17 February 1854. The work presents a theme which is then followed by ten variations.
The theme at the beginning of the work, which is very sweet and broad in character, evokes a sad popular song. This is music which comes from the depths of the soul and goes straight to the heart of the listener. The first variation (beginning at 1.27 of the CD) takes up the theme and enriches it with light simplicity. In the second variation (2.40) we already perceive the composer's intention to achieve orchestral levels which are then perpetuated in the third variation (4.03) which is, however, characterised by a more captivating expansiveness. In the fourth variation (5.32) the theme draws off into the distance and a marked low gloominess punctuates the melodic development. An intense sweetness strengthened by echoes of distant answers characterises the fifth variation (7.19) which is perhaps the most lyrical of them all.
This recently created atmosphere is brusquely interrupted by the allegro non troppo of the sixth variation (8.41) where we once again encounter the tonality of the initial theme which here is presented with greater vigour and an agile and imposing pianism. Its finale is triumphant. The seventh variation (9.50) is characterised by a kind of dialogue between the two players which is both loose and expansive. The agitated and emotional development of the eighth variation (10.57) continues in the ninth (11.45) where there is an additional high level of rhythmic angularity. A dramatic element presented with marked force is introduced into the work - fugues of scales which at the end of this section require great virtuosity in their playing. This is the tragic climax to the composition. The series of variations finish with the tenth (13.48) which is a sad and resigned march.

Sonata in F Minor op. 34/b for Two Pianofortes
There are two existing versions of this piece - the "34b" and one for a quintet (pianoforte, two violins, viola, and cello) which is marked "op. 34". In reality, there were three separate versions. The first ("34a", for strings), however, was destroyed by Brahms himself who thought it was inadequate. In the two versions which are still extant the scores, organisation and developments are identical. There is some confusion over which piece was composed first. The version for two pianos was the first to see the light of day. Brahms (as has already been pointed out) was not satisfied at the piece for strings and so rewrote it in June 1863 when staying in Blankenese, an old picturesque fishing village a few miles from Altona. He was on a working holiday which proved very productive.
The first public performance of this piece was held in Vienna in April 1864 and was played by the composer himself and Tausig. Brahms wrote the quintet version in the summer of 1864 when staying in Baden Baden. The problems connected with dating stem from the publication date of these two works - the quintet is dated 1865 and the version for pianoforte bears the year 1872. The publisher house of both pieces was the same company - Rieter-Biedermann, Lipsia amd Winterhur.
Brahms remained very attached to the piano version even though its first public performance was not a happy one - indeed, it was a veritable fiasco. However, Brahms did not allow himself to be influenced by this unhappy debut and continued to advance its cause with conviction. Clara Schumann performed it on at least three occasions - with Rubinstein, with Hermann Levi, and with Brahms himself. On this last occasion Princess Anne of Assia was present, and her appreciation of the work was such that Brahms later felt it his duty to dedicate this work to her. This sonata is now one of Brahms's most popular pieces and every time it is performed it receives the full acclaim of the listening public.

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