MOZART Adagio in B Minor, K. 540
short but substantial Adagio is among many standalone piano pieces that Mozart
wrote in the last decade of his life. They reflect his determination to expand
the scope of keyboard technique and expression, even as he breathed new life
into forms and genres associated with Bach and other 18th-century masters.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Op. 78
had a special affection for this two-movement work, written in the wake of the “Emperor”
Concerto. Commissioned by Muzio Clementi for his publishing firm in London, the
Sonata in F-sharp Major is notable for its tonality—unique in Beethoven’s
oeuvre—as well as its concision and dynamic energy.
JOHANNES BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 76
lavished as much craftsmanship on his short piano pieces as on his sonatas and
concertos. The eight capriccios and intermezzos that comprise his Op. 76 Klavierstücke illustrate the Romantic
genre of the “character” piece, a vehicle for distilling a particular mood or
musical idea to its essence.
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Children’s Corner
this beguiling suite composed for his three-year-old daughter, Debussy impishly
quotes a well-known passage from Wagner’s Tristan
und Isolde. Harold Bauer, who premiered Children’s
Corner in 1908, confessed that he was oblivious to the allusion until the
composer pointed it out to him.
ROBERT SCHUMANN Humoreske in B-flat
Major, Op. 20
fiercely challenging and somewhat neglected masterpiece displays the wide range
of styles and emotions that characterize Schumann’s early piano music. While it
was in progress, he wrote to his finacée, Clara Wieck, that he had “been at the
piano all week, composing, writing, laughing, and crying all at once.”