Brahms, Johannes: Sonata Movement (Sonatensatz, 1853)
Arranged for Viola and Piano by Watson Forbes
Three composers presented the great violinist Joseph Joachim in 1853 with a belated 21st-birthday gift: a violin sonata of which Albert Dietrich had written the opening Allegro, Johannes Brahms the Scherzo, and Robert Schumann the Finale. Brahms was just 20 years old and this Scherzo was amongst the first fruits of his friendship both with Joachim and Schumann. It is his earliest instrumental piece, written just before the first piano sonata. Although the whole sonata has long been forgotten, this movement – first published in 1906 – has become a favourite as a separate piece, particularly in Germany.
The distinguished Scottish violist Watson Forbes has edited the violin part and also arranged the solo part for viola and for cello; giving a wider performing field to this remarkable early example of the muscular but lyrical style which led Brahms later to write such grand scherzos as that in the second Piano Concerto. The piano score has the original, unedited violin part and is used for either the viola or cello version.