It is very familiar-sounding Brahms: A long-lost sketch of a piano piece by the great composer, perhaps a study for the “Trio” section of his Op. 40 Horn Trio.

Hear Andras Schiff play snippets and discuss the piece with the BBC’s Tom Service and conductor Christopher Hogwood:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/emp/external/player.swf

The full piece was part of an Andras Schiff recital presented on BBC Radio 3′s Music Matters, captured on this YouTube clip:

Plus, you can download the sheet music for free at PianoStreet.com.

NOTE:

In the “comments” section below, an antiquarian disputes Hogwood’s “discovery” story, with just cause. The extra information adds a bit of historical background, which made me smile with the remote Toronto connection: Violinist and Brahms mentor Edouard Remenyi’s direct descendants own Remenyi House of Music across from the ROM on Bloor St. W.

John Terauds

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15 Responses to Pianist Adras Schiff premieres long-lost Albumblatt by Johannes Brahms (updated)

  1. top99news says:

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  2. Bill Ecker says:

    The British version of how the piece was discovered has been fictionalized, here is the proper attribution:

    http://oldmusicautographs.blogspot.com/2012/01/fictional-hooplah-over-brahms-premier.html

  3. Bill Ecker says:

    With pleasure! Credit for the 1st performance should be properly given where credit is due! My understanding via my musical gremlins is the BBC3 will be altering their original script when the work is played today. We will see what happens.

  4. Such beautiful music. I love it.

  5. James Irsay says:

    Very little attention, if any, seems to be directed towards the un-Brahmsian dissonance at 1:18 and repeated at 2:05. I believe The ms shows that Brahms was rushed when he was writing it into the album. His writing deteriorates during the course of the ms. The sloppiest measure is the measure with the dissonance (which is absent from the Horn Trio equivalent!). Any one of several possible alterations would surely be preferable to the dissonance, which can be “gotten used to” only after several hearings. Another copy error is the unnecessary precautionary natural sign before the following B in the next measure, as if there had been a recent B flat.

    • John Terauds John Terauds says:

      Hi James,
      I’m playing the piece tomorrow, and have been waffling whether to leave that dissonance as it is, or not. Its a problem with the sudden G-natural, which is clearly shown in Brahms’ original m/s.
      John

      • James Irsay says:

        Hi John – I can sympathize. If Brahms were here today, I have no doubt that he would prefer any of 3 possible solutions to what he apparently wrote in error, in an evidently distracted state of mind (perhaps Rémenyi was calling from the street that their carriage was waiting). Weirdly, the exact same measure in the piano part of the 1st edition of the Horn Trio has incorrect G flats for G naturals – clearly a cursed measure! Btw, in the Trio, he omits the lower thirds in the 1st 2 beats, changing the harmony. If you were to match the upper voices between the Albumblatt and the Trio, you’d play in the measure in question F-G sharp, F sharp-A, G sharp-B. If you wanted to move things along, prefiguring the steadily rising top line 2 measures later (C sharp, D, E | F), and at the same time attempt to account for the precautionary natural sign before the dotted-half B, you might play F-G sharp, F sharp-A, G-A sharp [or perhaps B flat, which would invite the precautionary natural sign before the following] B! You also might simply change the 2nd beat top note to A sharp. But IMHO any of these 3 possibilities is better than playing the dissonance as written. Brahms would thank you! Let me know what you decide, please, and good luck.

        • John Terauds John Terauds says:

          I’ve decided to play the F-G sharp instead of what Brahms wrote. It fits harmonically, and I don’t have to cringe every time I play the measure.
          Thanks for your comments.
          J

  6. James Irsay says:

    Of course, possibility 2 involves poor spelling, as beat 3 should be an A sharp leading to the B, rather than B flat leading to B natural. There are other minor errors in the ms: no repeat signs at line 2 second ending, and a mis-spelled “accell” towards the end of line 3 – all of which support the conclusion that the great man was distracted.

  7. James Irsay says:

    Bravo, John! But as an indication of how tricky the measure is – you don’t mean F-G sharp do you? That is the correct 1st beat. Did you mean F sharp-A?

    • John Terauds John Terauds says:

      Sorry, I should have had the music in front of me: Measure 44, second beat, playing A-F natural in both right and left hand. It felt like the least intrusive change, because only one note changes, and it doesn’t pull on the harmonic structure.
      J

  8. James Irsay says:

    A perfectly acceptable, mellifluous solution. And the LH reverts to the F in the next measure, so, good thinking. The audience members are not going to look at each other with raised eyebrows! Have fun presenting the piece. Best, James

  9. Bill Ecker says:

    We now have a video of the real World Premiere which took place in Seattle with Craig Sheppard at the piano, 28 April, 2011!

    http://oldmusicautographs.blogspot.com/2012/02/true-brahms-waltz-in-minor-world.html

  10. Trice says:

    Nice to read about Reményi family. Yes, not so many know that apart of being an influential figure in the musician world at those times, he was ancestor of Remenyi Music founder, the store that is undoubtedly one of the best music instrument stores in Toronto.