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The Late Piano Works

Craig Sheppard
- piano

Sieben Fantasien, Opus 116
Drei Intermezzi, Opus 117
Sechs Klavierstücke, Opus 118
Vier Klavierstücke, Opus 119

Sieben Fantasien, Opus 116
Capriccio - Presto energico

During the early months of 1890, at the zenith of his powers and fame, Brahms confined to close friend that he felt his days were numbered. Why should he think this? Perhaps he saw the world around him changing in ways he could not forestall, nor understand. Richards Strauss's tone poem, Don Juan, had an enormous success in 1889. The latter symphonies of Anton Bruckner, long Brahms's nemesis, were drawing accolades. Mahler and Schönberg were standing in the wings (Brahms helped the former enormously in the early years of his career), and Debussy would compose his ground-breaking tone poem, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the afternoon of a faun), four years hence. So, it was especially fortuitous that Brahms undertook a conducting engagement in the latter part of the year in Meinigen, where he met the clarinetist, Richard Mühfeld, a meeting which initiated a period of compositional activity to rival anything Brahms had done previously, producing his second string quartet; the trio, quintet, and two sonatas for clarinet; six quartets for mixed voices; the Vier Ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs); and the four great sets of lyrical piano miniatures, Opus 116-119.