Brahms wrote his final piano pieces – the Op. 116-118 sets – four years before he died and at a time when he believed that they would be his farewell to music. These intimate works were created in 1892 – a couple of years after Brahms made his will and told friends that he may no longer be able to compose. There is a strong sense of loss – it was a year in which many loved ones died, including his sister Elise and friends, the surgeon Theodor Billroth and conductor Hans von Bülow. But alongside intimations of a long and productive life closing and death approaching, represented by the descending thirds which permeate them, these works are also intimate and personal.
Two exceptional young musicians do great justice to Brahms’ twilight works.