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Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor Op.108
Brahms Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor Op.108
Brahms composed his “Violin Sonata in D minor” during the summer of 1886. The work quickly became part of the standard repertoire and has remained so until today. It is presented here in a fine Bärenreiter Urtext edition and comes with an unmarked Urtext part as well as a second part marked with fingering and bowing by Clive Brown which are based on the practices of Brahms‘ contemporaries.
An important part of this edition is the extensive preface. Firstly it informs about the works‘ origins, its compositional process, pre-publication performances, its publication history as well as early reception. Truly remarkable is the unique Performance Practice Commentary. Here the editors take the premise that already a few decades after Brahms‘ death a widening gulf developed between the composer’s expectations and the performance practices of the early 20th century. In a very concrete and practical way, the editors summarize some of the key issues in understanding Brahms‘ notation with regard to rhythm and timing, dynamics and accentuation, dots and strokes, slurring and non legato, piano pedalling and overholding, piano arpeggiation and dislocation, string instrument fingering, string instrument harmonics and vibrato. In this way, the edition offers an exciting and often surprising insight in Romantic musical interpretation.
The Works for one Instrument and Piano
Johannes Brahms’ compositions for one instrument and piano have been standards in chamber music literature ever since their inception. These works were written with specific performers in mind and Brahms worked closely with them when refining the final texts. Nevertheless, we rarely approach the music taking into consideration the possibilities of the instruments for which Brahms wrote or the performing practices of the individual players who first performed these compositions, including Brahms himself.
The New Urtext Editions
Bärenreiter’s pioneering new scholarly-critical editions of Brahms’ works for one instrument and piano are edited by a team of musicologists who are also performers. They offer today’s musicians not just a reliable musical text based on all known sources, but also a comprehensive approach to the works, which aims to place them in their historical context and to elucidate the complex of meanings that the composer wished his notation to convey to performers.
In addition to the musical text these editions offer an informative Introduction laying out the genesis, publication history and reception of the works. At the same time there is a complete list of the sources, an explanation of the editorial procedures and a Critical Commentary. Also, each volume contains a detailed discussion of specific performing practice issues raised by individual works.
An integral part of Bärenreiter’s Brahms publication complex is a text booklet which approaches general performance practice issues of the 19th century with regard to e.g. tempo, rubato, rhythmic flexibility and articulation. Furthermore musicians will find valuable information concerning vibrato, portamento and bowing. Last but not least characteristics of Brahms’ own piano playing as well as that of his circle and contemporaries are discussed.
The violin and viola sonata editions come not only with an Urtext part freed from all editorial emendations, but also with an additional part including fingering and bowing based on the practices of Joseph Joachim and his colleagues. These markings especially draw on publications of the sonatas edited by Joachim’s pupils Leopold Auer and Ossip Schnirlin as well as those by Brahms’ associate Franz Kneisel. A similar approach has been used for the violoncello sonatas, drawing on performance markings by Ro