Brahms in romantic mood – ideal for the day after St. Valentine’s.

Yesterday was St. Valentine’s Day and I was in the mood for Brahms. The piece on my 1878 ‘turntable,’ my journey through the history of classical music,  is his first violin sonata, known as The Raindrop after one of his songs used as the basis for the whole sonata’s structure. You don’t really need to know that the song is one of love lost and tears in the rain but it’s worthwhile, one day, for you to listen to the song and see how cleverly he uses fragments of it to build the framework. Brahms would be cross with us if we tried to get too literal about music’s “meaning” – he argued with Wagner and Liszt in the thorny 19th Century debate about whether music needed a tangible explanation and he believed and defended music as “absolute” and essentially abstract in its sublimity. Let’s not go into that here though while listening to Brahms at his most romantic and where there really is no need for words. If Brahms can talk without words then so too can the musicians here, Itzhak Perlman and Daniel Barenboim (their CD recording is a must-have). Even though no words describe what the music is saying here, it’s not out of place to hear it the day after Valentines. Here’s the slow movement:

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