Brahms, Variations for Piano

Johannes+Brahms+BrahmsProgramme: Brahms: Piano Variations

A concert programme featuring Brahms’ main sets of piano variations, from the pyrotechnical Paganini-Variations to the majestic Händel-Variations. A most effective and gratifying journey through Brahms’s “pianistic protocols”.

“In his Variations, we hear the personal, private Brahms,” Mr. Grante says, “introspective, intimate, and in conversation with the great composers of the past. Hearing these works in a single evening allows us to follow as Brahms transforms the art of piano writing into a personal language that, while firmly rooted in the classical tradition, reveals a new musical grammar of expressive possibilities.

 “I never get tired of playing these works, with their endless invention and variety,” he continues. “I like to give each variation its own character, its own ‘orchestration,’ as if each is one of a group of people, telling his or her own version of a familiar story, the theme. The slow variations, especially, are sublime meditations.”

Mr Grante is recording these works in 2015-2016.

Johannes Brahms


Variations on a Hungarian Melody in D major, Op. 21, No. 2 (1854)

  • Thema. Allegro
  • Variation I.
  • Variation II.
  • Variation III.
  • Variation IV.
  • Variation V. Con espressione
  • Variation VI.
  • Variation VII. Poco più lento, dolce espressivo. Quasi pizzicato
  • Variation VIII. Ancora un poco più lento. Espressivo, dolce
  • Variation IX. Dolce
  • Variation X. Legato, dolce
  • Variation XI. Dolce
  • Variation XII. Espressivo
  • Variation XIII. Con forza—Allegro (il doppio Movimento)—Tempo I più animato

Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 35 (1863)
Book 1
Thema. Non troppo Presto
Variation I.
Variation II.
Variation III.
Variation IV.
Variation V.
Variation VI.
Variation VII.
Variation VIII.
Variation IX.
Variation X.
Variation XI. Andante
Variation XII.
Variation XIII.
Variation XIV. Allegro

Book 2
Thema. Non troppo Presto
Variation I.
Variation II. Poco Animato
Variation III.
Variation IV. Poco Allegretto
Variation V.
Variation VI. Poco più vivace
Variation VII.
Variation VIII. Allegro
Variation IX.
Variation X. Veloce, energico
Variation XI. Vivace
Variation XII. Un poco Andante
Variation XIII. Un poco più Andante
Variation XIV. Presto, ma non troppo

Variations on a theme of Schumann in F-sharp minor, Op. 9 (1854)

Thema. Ziemlich langsam
Variation I. L’istesso tempo
Variation II. Poco più mosso
Variation III. Tempo di tema
Variation IV. Poco più mosso
Variation V. Allegro capriccioso
Variation VI. Allegro
Variation VII. Andante
Variation VIII. Andante (non troppo lento)
Variation IX. Schnell
Variation X. Poco Adagio
Variation XI. Un poco più animato
Variation XII. Allegretto, poco scherzando
Variation XIII. Non troppo Presto
Variation XIV. Andante
Variation XV. Poco Adagio
Variation XVI. Adagio

Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, B flat Major, Op. 24 (1861)
Variation I. Più vivo
Variation II
Variation III
Variation IV
Variation V
Variation VI
Variation VII
Variation VIII
Variation IX
Variation X. Allegro
Variation XI. Moderato
Variation XII. L’istesso tempo
Variation XIII. Largamente, ma non troppo
Variation XIV
Variation XV
Variation XVI
Variation XVII
Variation XVIII
Variation XIX
Variation XX. Andante
Variation XXI. Vivace
Variation XXII. Alla Musette
Variation XXIII. Vivace
Variation XXIV
Variation XXV


‘As evidenced by the detailed analysis in Grante’s program notes, the pianist has applied a strong intellect and deep theoretical understanding to his study of these complex works, which by their very nature as variations depart from many of the patterns of theme, development and recapitulation that characterize most of classical music’s other forms. The flip side of that coin is an attitude of humility before the greatness of the art, manifested in the pianist’s apparently explorative approach.’

Jon Sobol, Blogcritics – February 2015


13 March 2015
Vienna, Austria

12 April 2015
Berlin, Germany

10 February 2015
New York, USA