For the second live performance of his fifth season, Sergey Schepkin, founder and director of the Glissando Boston live performance collection, immersed us in what is probably Brahms’s most uninhibitedly “Absolute music,” specifically piano works for one and two pianos. In Paul Rudolph’s hovering modernist sanctuary of First Church in Boston, and together with a sizeable viewers regardless of Friday night’s chilly rain, we rediscovered the fantastic rhapsodic magnificence and revolutionary percussive energy of Brahms’s piano music.
Schepkin began with the elegant and sublimely pared-down Three Intermezzi, Op. 117, written late in Brahms’s life, in 1892. As is his hallmark, Schepkin had developed a penetrating understanding of the three difficult and deeply enigmatic items earlier than delivering his personal delicate and clever interpretation. He carried out them with nice simplicity, permitting Brahms’s personal concentrated and mature mastery of kind to talk for itself freely – or, fairly, to sing with solemn grace for itself with a thousand nuances of introspection, grief, craving, remorse and gratitude. Within the first, Andante moderato in E-flat main, Schepkin did two notable issues. He took full benefit of the Scottish lullaby reference to tinge the piece with a delightful harmless wildness, and he unfolded the melodic line right into a loving cradle containing deeper and extra tumultuous feelings, soothing them with out denying them.
Within the second Intermezzo, Andante non troppo e con molto espressione in B-flat minor, Schepkin gave us a boldly impressionist studying. He conveyed the complete extent to which “the lullaby of all of my griefs” (as Brahms himself mentioned) served as an Incantation to Magnificence. The rippling moonlit environment created by the falling-arpeggio determine appeared to open up ever-new horizons of aesthetic discovery, pointing within the course of Debussy. Brahms’s dedication to the intricate inside buildings of music’s personal adamantine languages sustains an inexhaustible transcendence. An analogous delicacy emanated from the final Intermezzo, Andante con moto in C-sharp minor, the place Schepkin launched a extra fatalistic shade by clear phrasing that eschewed all want for exaggerated inflection. Reality speaks to us instantly. We can’t refuse it or elude it.
After revealing the complete maturity of Brahms’s artwork to us within the Three Intermezzi, Schepkin returned to its early sources with the Sonata No. 1 in C Main, Op. 1, composed in 1853 when Brahms was a good-looking pink-cheeked youth of 20, properly combining Beethovenian heroism with Schubertian melodiousness. Schepkin revealed an impetuous younger composer who yearned to attain freedom by disciplining a richly risky company, pushed in a number of instructions by a distinctively private consciousness of rhythmic prospects. Schepkin gave the primary motion each a scattered and convulsive feeling, paying homage to Shelley’s Wild West Wind in its unabashedly Romantic, Sturm und Dang momentum. He interpreted the second motion Andante to be deeply suspenseful, intoxicating and provocative, earlier than plunging into the third motion nearly with out pause, attaca, giving it a frankly calamitous environment with spirited and rambunctious chords worthy of Schoenberg. In consequence, the ultimate motion Allegro con fuoco emerged as a veritable catharsis, cleaning, liberating — completely youthful, filled with promise, magnificently immature and resolute.
In works for 2 pianos, Erin Lindsey and her brother Ian Lindsey additional explored the numerous shocking options of Brahms’s complicated however natural and progressive artistry that Schepkin had helped us rediscover with recent consciousness. The brother-sister duo first performed a number of Waltzes, Op. 39 (1865), showcasing Brahms’s center interval. They properly emphasised the composer’s rhythmic improvements, particularly in Waltz No. 4 in E Minor, which they imbued with a pleasant rumbling character, and in Waltz No. 11 in B Minor, to which they gave a scherzo-like, carnival really feel. Within the well-known Waltz 15 in A serious, they emphasised the best way Brahms makes use of rhythmic inventiveness to present recent energy and which means to variations.
The Lindseys ended the live performance with a titanic efficiency of the Sonata for Two Pianos in F Minor, Op. 34b. All through, they emphasised the percussive results obtained by 4 arms over and past the complicated forwards and backwards imitations, divergence and convergence, communion, and rivalry. Their splendidly ‘powerful,” energetic, thrilling, riveting, cacophonous traversal at occasions felt even brutalist in its emphasis on Brahms’s trailblazing place because the “first of the moderns.” But the Andante un poco Adagio impressed meltingly lovely sonorities, progressively extra tender and interlaced, and at occasions evocative of a dirge. The strikingly daring modernism with which they took the introduction to the ultimate motion, Poco sostenuto, allowed fragments of it to return with the identical daring, recent aesthetic, interrupting the large panorama of ahead momentum.
We had all been massaged thoughts and soul, coronary heart and physique, from limb to limb, violently cleansed from any February stoop. However oh the three valedictory Intermezzi! In a wierd and paradoxical method, their immense and delicate maturity shone all of the extra brightly after our immersion in Brahms’s journey of constancy and strife.
On Friday March 17th, Glissando will supply extra Brahms, this time Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 11, with native favorites Gary Gorczyca (clarinet) and Rafael Popper-Kaiser (cello) becoming a member of Schepkin on the piano. Keep tuned!
Anne Davenport is a scholar of early fashionable theology and philosophy. She has printed books on medieval theories of infinity and Descartes. Her most up-to-date e-book is “Suspicious Reasonable” on the life and works of the 17th-century English Franciscan, Francis à Sancta Clara.