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Osorio - Brahms Piano Concerto

Johannes Brahms

Piano Sonata no. 3 in F minor, op. 5

Brahms¹ third and last piano sonata is a massive work written when the

composer was only twenty. It is remarkable in its maturity and as a portent

of the great genius that was to mark the composer¹s later works. Completed

in 1853, it was already

evident from the sonata¹s style that Brahms was on his own path in respect

to form and content. Tovey considered the work to be a ³mastery of classical

technique unknown since Beethoven.² The basic sonata structure was augmented

with the insertion of an Intermezzo between the Scherzo and the Finale,

bringing the piece to five movements instead of the customary four.

Percy Grainger described the sonata¹s first movement as ³a heaven- storming

affair; bold, overpowering, austere, and for a youthful work, remarkably


Although it follows the somewhat traditional sonata form, the opening

movement demonstrates a certain freedom with its terse, yet fiery opening

motif that

encompasses the full extent of the keyboard. Brahms preceded the second

movement, a gorgeous Andante espressivo, with three lines of poetry written


C.O. Sternau:


³Der Abend dämmert, das Mondlicht scheint,

Da sind zwei Herzen in Liebe vereint

Und halten sich selig umfangen.²

(Twilight falls, the moonlight shines,

Two hearts are united in love

And embrace each other blissfully)


The movement is ethereal, dreamy, and unabashedly romantic. Comparisons to

Wagner¹s Tristan, which it preceded, are inevitable. The vigorous Scherzo


follows pierces the sentimental mood of the Andante with its waltz-like lilt


modern dissonances. The somber and lyrical Trio section provides an


contrast with the vitality of the main theme. Brahms subtitled the fourth

movement Intermezzo ³Rückblick², or ³Retrospect². There are clear references

to the Andante, only the youthful bliss of romance has turned to sorrow, as

the rhythm now becomes that of a funeral march and the key changes to a

doleful B-flat minor. Brahms

extricates himself from the sadness in the Finale, a free rondo form laden


references to the earlier movements. There is an association of the main


with that of the Scherzo, and the third theme of the principal three

subjects is

characterized by contrapuntal brilliance in an extended coda that brings the


to a breathtaking and triumphant conclusion.

Seven Fantasies, op. 116

Piano Pieces, op. 119

The last piano pieces of Brahms, op. 116-119 have been characterized as ³the

cream of Brahms¹ smaller piano compositions.² Intimate in nature, the last

compositions are extraordinarily moving. Music historian Robert Haven

Schauffler wrote that ³..they are music first, and piano-music second. We

shall cherish them as an

invaluable part of our spiritual possessions, long after pages primarily


for pianistic effect are quite forgotten.²

Written in 1892, the opus 116 volume was entitled Fantasies by Brahms, but

actually consists of three Capriccios and four Intermezzi. Although not

written as a ³cycle², the final Capriccio rounds out the opus with

references to the first and second Capriccio. The Intermezzi also borrow

certain motives from one another, yet each piece stands independently as a

strong and dramatic work.

Opus 116 opens with the Capriccio in D minor, an uncompromising and vigorous

piece. The ensuing Intermezzo in A minor is a gentle work whose middle

section Clara Schumann compared to the song of a nightingale. The G minor

Capriccio is driving and passionate, with a majestic central passage. The

Intermezzo no. 4 in E major is dreamily enchanting and moved the critic

Huneker to such an extent that he wrote: ³In the entire range of piano

literature I cannot recall a more individual and

beautiful piece of music...² The Intermezzo in E minor is an intimate, short

piece that is deceptive in its simplicity. Critic Peter Latham wrote that

³ is a wisp of a thing that looks easy to play and is not.² The

Intermezzo no 6 in E major is gentle and earnest, with melancholy harmonies

that suggest a somberness somewhat unusual in Brahms. The D Minor Capriccio

no. 7 recalls the key signature of the first Capriccio and the structure of

the second Capriccio in G minor, and thus ends the opus 116 collection in a

comprehensive and unified manner.

Opus 119 was the last group of pieces Brahms wrote for piano in 1893. There

are three Intermezzi and a Rhapsody, and all are striking in their economy

of form and content‹not one note can be spared. The Intermezzo no. 1 in B

minor was described by Clara Schumann, for whom it was composed, as ³gray,

pearl-veiled and very precious.² However, Brahms was apparently disappointed

by her failure to grasp its musical subtleties. In a letter to Clara, Brahms

suggested that the piece be played very slowly and deliberately. The

impatient Andantino of the E minor Intermezzo no. 2, provides a refreshing

tempo change from the lingering Adagio of no. 1. The piece features a light,

rhythmic section which turns it into what Schauffler feels is ³one of the

most convincing love songs ever entrusted to the piano.² The C Major

Intermezzo no. 3 is a sunny and blithe work of subtle voicing which is

popular with audiences. The E-flat Rhapsody no. 4 is the composer¹s last

piece for the piano and heralds the return to Brahms¹ earlier ³orchestral²

piano compositions such as the three sonatas. The Rhapsody is a large

march-rondo that contains hints of Schumann (as does Intermezzo no. 1). The

surprise here is the coda that ends the piece in

E-flat minor, an unusual minor-key conclusion to a piece written in a major

key. Triumphant and heroic, the Rhapsody demonstrates the composer¹s

vitality, even towards the end of his prolific career. Perhaps Robert Haven

Schauffler summed it up best when he wrote: ³When we savor these final

groups of pieces, we are often inclined to feel..that our host has kept the

best wine until the last.²

­Laura Harth Rodriguez


Jorge Federico Osorio

Recognized as one of the preeminent pianists of our time, Jorge Federico

Osorio has been internationally acclaimed for his superb musicianship and

absolute command of the instrument. He has performed with many of the

world¹s leading orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas

Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic,

Orchestre Nationale de France, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic

Orchestra, Moscow State Orchestra and Warsaw Philharmonic, under the batons

of such internationally acclaimed

conductors as Bernard Haitnik, Lorin Maazel, Klaus Tennstedt, Eduardo Mata,

Lukas Foss, Enrique Batiz, and Luis Herrera de la Fuente. His

concert tours have taken him to North America, Europe, Asia and Central and

South America and American festival appearances have included the Hollywood

Bowl, Ravinia and Grant Park Festivals. In addition to his recent triumphant

debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his critically acclaimed

Lincoln Center recital debut at Alice Tully Hall, Mr. Osorio has performed

with the orchestras of Pasadena, San Antonio, Northbrook, and Delaware and

with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. He has made radio recordings for Japan

NHK and Belgian Radio, and on

several occasions, for the BBC.

Mr. Osorio¹s extensive discography includes a wide variety of repertoire.

His solo Brahms recording on ASV was proclaimed by Gramophone as ³one of the

most distinguished discs of Brahms¹ piano music in recent years.²

IMP Classics has recently released his recordings of Beethoven¹s Five Piano

Concerti and Choral Fantasy, and in addition to his orchestral recordings of

works by Brahms, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, Mr. Osorio

made the world premier recording of Manuel Ponce¹s Piano Concerto. He has

also recorded four Beethoven Sonatas

and ³Balada Mexicana², solo piano works of Ponce.

Born in Mexico, Mr. Osorio began his musical studies at the age of five. He

studied at the conservatories of Mexico, Paris and Moscow, and his teachers

have included his mother, Luz Maria Puente, Bernard Flavigny, Monique Haas,

Jacob Milstein, Nadia Reisenberg and Wilhelm Kempff. Performing chamber

music is an integral part of his artistic life and in

addition to having served as artistic director of the Brahms Music Festival

in Mexico, he has performed with the Moscow Quartet, Tel Aviv Quartet,

violinist Mayumi Fujikawa and cellist Richard Markson as part of a piano

trio and with the late Henryk Szeryng. He is the recipient of several

international prizes and awards, including the Rhode Island International

Master Piano Competition and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra¹s Gina Bachauer



Johannes Brahms

Sonata No.3 in F minor, op. 5

[1] I. Allegro maestoso 9:40

[2] II. Andante espressivo 11:11

[3] III. Scherzo: Allegro energico: Trio 4:30

[4] IV. Intermezzo: (Rückblick): Andante molto 3:16

[5] V. Finale: Allegro moderato ma rubato 7:15

Fantasies, op. 116

[6] No. 1 Capriccio in D minor 2:11

[7] No. 2 Intermezzo in A minor 3:12

[8] No. 3 Capriccio in G minor 2:43

[9] No. 4 Intermezzo in E major 4:21

[10] No. 5 Intermezzo in E minor 3:07

[11] No. 6 Intermezzo in E major 2:54

[12] No. 7 Capriccio in D minor 2:07

Piano Pieces, op. 119

[13] No. 1 Intermezzo in B minor 3:36

[14] No. 2 Intermezzo in E minor 4:24

[15] No. 3 Intermezzo in C major 1:40

[16] No. 4 Rhapsody in E-flat major 4:23

total time: 70:28


Producer: Laura Harth Rodriguez

Engineer: Francisco X. Rodriguez

Mastering: Digital Dynamics Audio Inc., Francisco X. Rodriguez

Graphic Design: Jim Manly, Judd Robbins

Cover Photo: Arcos-Alcaraz

Recorded on February 2, 1999 at SUNY Purchase, New York.


Jorge Federico Osorio, Piano

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