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Old world charm

LAWRENCE BUDMEN listens to the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin playing Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven


If Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) is viewed as the conservative guardian of the Austro-German musical tradition, his music is infused with the greatest reverence for the creative giants who preceded him. Bach's contrapuntal mastery finds voice in Brahms's repeated use of fugue and passacaglia forms. Above all Brahms worshiped Beethoven and was concerned about comparisons between that master's works and his music. He was also part of a broader nineteenth century romantic era that found Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Brahms's friend Robert Schumann writing at white heat. A strong European performance tradition took root around the works of these creative giants. That Central European performance style is still very much alive. The Philharmonia Quartett Berlin brought their unique view of Brahms to the Omni Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, USA on 3 February 2004 in an eleventh anniversary concert for the Coral Gables Mainly Mozart Festival. The program was presented by the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Coral Gables Cultural Affairs Council.

The Quartet in B flat major Op 67 is Brahms's third and final published string quartet. The score dates from the composer's forty fourth year (1876). The third movement Agitato (Allegretto non troppo) inspires one of those gorgeously romantic melodic confections that only Brahms could write. Like the Poco Allegretto of the composer's third symphony, the wistful melody of this movement gives the score poignancy that stamps it as one of the great creations of the romantic era. From the first vigorous chords of the Vivace, this score is Brahms at his most inspired.

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Copyright © 7 February 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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