Johannes Brahms once said, “Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind” (“22 Inspiring Composer Quotes”). When one listens to Brahms’s compositions, it quickly becomes evident that his music is where craftsmanship and inspiration meet. From magnificent themes to a masterful use musical instruments, Brahms knew how to compose. One piece in which Brahms’ skill shines through with particular brilliance is his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Opus 83.
This concerto is beautiful and unusual. Although concertos typically have three movements, this one has four. Another unique aspect of the piano concerto is how many solos and cadenzas Brahms gives to instruments besides the piano. The 1st movement “Allegro non Troppo” begins with a tender French horn solo which introduces the main theme before the piano joins in. The mellow notes of the horns combine with the piano to create what sounds like a sunrise. Brahms also includes a cello solo in the 3rd movement “Andante.” At one point, the solo pianist even accompanies the cello.
Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 is full of warmth and color. Each movement contains gorgeous themes, and Brahms weaves these in and out of the composition. As a theme passes from one instrument to another, Brahms develops it and introduces variations on it. Sometimes the piano and orchestra echo a theme back and forth, creating an intricate tapestry of sound. As a pianist himself, Brahms understood the capabilities of the instrument, and this piano concerto showcases stormy scherzos, tender solos, and playful accompaniments.
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Minor by Johannes Brahms is a brilliant piece full of passion and grace. For this piece alone, Brahms deserves the fame he has won as a composer.
“22 Inspiring Composer Quotes.” ClassicFM.com. 4 Jan. 2016 <www.classicfm.com/discover/music/inspiring-composer-quotes/johannes-brahms/>.