Form/Instrumentation: Pieces for solo Piano
Year(s) composed/published: First Publication November 1892
Period: Middle Romantic-era
Catelog #: Op. 116
Work Info: Opus 116 consisted of three capriccios and four intermezzos. They were unlike any pieces he had ever entrusted to piano. No longer a conversation with the audience, these were now but monologues, nay, soliloquies: conversations with himself. His capriccios – violent and volatile – asked questions with no answers. His intermezzos introduced some calm into the cycle. The original idea was to close it already on the fourth miniature, Intermezzo in E major.
• Capriccio in D minor op. 116/1 is brimming with almost-chaotic energy. The endless syncopation of musical narration seems an obstinate yet pointless struggle against the invisible.
• Intermezzo in A minor op. 116/2 is a moment of repose and of reflection, singing and lyrical. Its middle part is filled with an arabesque of a melody searching for a way out. It is extraordinarily beautiful and fragile, a return to the point of departure, a melancholy dwindling of narration.
• Capriccio in G minor op. 116/3. Violence strikes back with running tones in a tempo of Allegro passionato, amplified by unisons of both hands. Trio, in E♭ major, is filled with chord progressions, at times singing, at times irate.
• Intermezzo in E major op. 116/4 is the essence of personal lyricism, concentration neighbouring on reverie. The music wanders around the keyboard, stops and then goes on, only responding to intuition, impulse, memory.
Brahms converses with himself in tones.