Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Nationality: German
Born: May 7, 1833, Hamburg Died: April 3, 1897, Vienna (age 63)

String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat major, Op. 67

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
9:22 I. Vivace
7:39 II. Andante
8:08 III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
10:04 IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
Duration: 35 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1875 (age 41-42)
Premiere: October 30, 1876. Berlin
Published: 1876 (age 42-43)
Dedication: Th. W. Engelmann
10 recordings, 33 videos
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10:14
Alban Berg Quartet
I. Vivace
7:25
Alban Berg Quartet
II. Andante
8:06
Alban Berg Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
9:33
Alban Berg Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
9:48
Bartók Quartet
I. Vivace
7:08
Bartók Quartet
II. Andante
7:47
Bartók Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
8:57
Bartók Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
32:51
Smetana String Quartet
10:35
Mandelring Quartett
I. Vivace
6:56
Mandelring Quartett
II. Andante
8:14
Mandelring Quartett
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
9:35
Mandelring Quartett
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
8:33
Jerusalem Quartet
I. Vivace
7:29
Jerusalem Quartet
II. Andante
8:18
Jerusalem Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
11:14
Jerusalem Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
7:05
Flonzaley Quartet
I. Vivace
6:51
Flonzaley Quartet
II. Andante
7:46
Flonzaley Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
3:20
Flonzaley Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni (part 2)
9:30
Emerson String Quartet
I. Vivace
7:42
Emerson String Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
9:36
Emerson String Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
10:45
Delian Quartett
I. Vivace
7:44
Delian Quartett
II. Andante
8:05
Delian Quartett
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
10:36
Delian Quartett
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
7:12
Cleveland Quartet
I. Vivace
8:08
Cleveland Quartet
II. Andante
8:39
Cleveland Quartet
III. Agitato. Allegretto non troppo
9:53
Cleveland Quartet
IV. Poco allegretto con variazioni
31:15
Budapest Quartet
From Kai Christiansen

Johannes Brahms The last of Brahms’ three quartets eventually became his favorite. Written in 1875 while Brahms was working on his first symphony, the String Quartet in B-flat, Op. 67 achieves a sureness of quartet writing and a bright buoyancy of mood and rhythmic vitality. The quartet opens with a bounding theme suggestive of hunting horns that soon become delightfully entangled in cross rhythms, a telltale Brahms signature of two against three found throughout his oeuvre.

A spirited theme and variations finale begins with a similar mood and pulse, a fresh theme in a canter rising up, curiously complimentary to the hunting theme falling down. Indeed, towards the end of the variation set, the initial hunting party comes galloping right into the finale where Brahms applies countermelody and variation so that both the first and final themes combine and blend in a marvelous instance of cyclical, retrospective synergy and closure.

Between these lively outer movements, Brahms writes a deeply stirring andante and a suave, mysteriously wistful allegretto. The second movement andante begins as a warm cantilena for the first violin, a lied or a familiar Brahms intermezzo. A contrasting section seems to thrust a rugged mountain vista into the picture, softened again by reverent chorale strains, another jagged peak, a lonely valley and then, a final blossoming meadow as the lush lyricism returns, enriched with a breadth and cadence of majestic repose. The third movement allegretto is marked agitato, a delicate but whirling waltz with swells and waves suggesting a fast, watery barcarole. The viola leads throughout, frequently in strong relief against the muted trio.

Written when Brahms was 42, it seems curious, if not disappointing, that this third quartet would become his last. Why didn’t he ever return to the string quartet again? It is equally thought provoking that the self-critical Brahms wrote but destroyed several other previous quartets as well.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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