Garrick Ohlsson continues his two-year journey through Brahms’ complete solo piano works with a program that might well chart the course of the relationship between the composer and Clara Schumann: three pieces on it were dedicated to her; all written with her in mind. The wistful Op. 118, economical of gesture, suggest an older Brahms reconciled to Clara’s unavailability. But while the Op. 118 are typical of Brahms’ mature period, the Sonata in F-sharp Minor (his first piece written for solo piano and second to be published) is stormy and discursive, reflecting the angst of a young man who wants what he cannot have. Wintery resignation returns in the Intermezzi of Op. 117, which Brahms called “lullabies,” and finish with the pyrotechnics of his Handel variations, a birthday gift to Clara.
Brahms, Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118
Brahms, Sonata in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2
Brahms, Intermezzi, Op. 117
Brahms, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24