Brahms and Tchaikovsky: The 127th Day

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Album Review

The 127th Day The birthdays of Brahms (1833-1897) and Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) fall on 7th May. The 127th day of the year also marks the night of the première of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in 1824, the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1948 – and the day of the recording session leading to this album, in Vienna, on a Bösendorfer Concert Grand 280VC with Armenian pianist and Bösendorfer Artist Nareh Arghamanyan in 2019. Nareh, acclaimed for her ‘sensual narrative tone’, ‘precise stylistic approach’ and ‘dazzling technique’, juxtaposes two vignettes of the Romantic piano repertoire: Brahms Opus 117 and Tchaikovsky’s Opus 37.Above the music of the fi rst of Brahms’ Intermezzi Op. 117 of 1892, he quotes the opening of Johann Gottf ried Herder’s German setting of Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament; he described the third, in C-sharp Minor, which allegedly was inspired by Henry Longfellow’s Victor Galbraith, as ‘the lullaby of all my sorrows’. Clara Schumann, arguably their covert dedicatee, confi ded to her diary that these compositions are ‘a true source of enjoyment, everything, poetry, passion, rapture, intimacy, full of the most marvellous effects ... in these pieces at least I feel musical life stir once again in my soul.’Tchaikovsky was working on Swan Lake, when he accepted a commission in 1875 f rom Nikolay Bernard, publisher of music periodical Nouvellist to compose twelve miniatures, each describing a different month of the year. The Seasonshave become Tchaikovsky’s best-known piano works – Troika (November) was a favourite encore of Rachmaninoff.