Work: Waltzes (16) for Piano 4 hands, Op. 39: no 15 in A flat major
About This Work
The 16 waltzes that make up Brahms' Op. 39 exist in versions for both solo piano and for piano four-hands. This one, as well as Nos. 1, 2, 8, 11, and 14, were also transcribed by the composer for two pianos, four-hands. But it is the solo piano
rendition, chronologically the second of the three versions, that is the most played; moreover, the Fifteenth Waltz here, in any version, is among the most widely known of all Brahms' piano pieces.
The Op. 39 Waltzes are light and Viennese in character, and brief in duration, generally lasting a minute or two. This A flat Waltz comfortably fits that mold and opens with one of Brahms' most memorable themes: it is serene and elegant in its slow pacing, soothing too in its catchy simplicity, the music becoming instantly familiar to the novice listener. In its second subject -- which is really a miniature development of the main theme -- the music takes on a grander character and somewhat larger sonorities, as chords thicken and the main line enters the upper register. Here, the music even hints at the richer, more epic Brahmsian expressive manner of the two piano concertos. Yet the light Viennese character is never cast aside throughout both expositions. In the third and final appearance of the melody, the music turns lighter still, even playful in its almost fairytale-like treatment in the upper register.
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