My Favorites: Introspective Brahms and Soaring Gnattali

By Alice Abraham

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For the week of Valentine's Day, we'll be playing the music you love most, and in that spirit, here is the next in a series of what a few of us here at 99.5 All Classical love most.  Alice Abraham is our Music Librarian, responsible for a collection of over 90,000 individual recordings and books in support of the classical music we bring you 24 hours a day.

We hope these ideas prompt you to think through your favorites, which you can submit here!


Feb. 9

My favorite music Valentines features intense emotional dialogues for strings.

I was the youngest of four and was second fiddle in our family string quartet. Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, Op. 78, reminds me of my parents encouraging us to spread our wings and to be adventurous. But the melancholy woven throughout this work represents to me our loss and resignation when my sister disappeared/died on an expedition. Long ago I performed this sonata on my sister’s 1747 violin. The second movement is one of those rare occasions where Brahms borrowed a theme from one of his earlier works. The introspective Adagio quotes the rain motif from his song “Das Regenlied” Op. 59 No. 3.

In contrast, Radames Gnattali’s Sonata, written in 1969, is a vibrant and passionate dialogue for cello and guitar influenced by strong sonorities and rhythms found in Brazilian popular music. I’m so glad that cellist Maxine Neuman, one half of the Claremont Duo, introduced me to this work, which the duo included on a CD from Artek called “Histoires.” The first and third movements are especially inspirational, lifting you up, soaring and swirling with the wind through new adventures in life!

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