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    Brahms: Sonata Movement from the F. A. E. Sonata, WoO 2

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    The year 1853 was of great importance to Johannes Brahms, on a personal and also on a professional level, for it was then that he first met Joseph Joachim, Robert and Clara Schumann, all three of whom, in their various ways, were to exercise an enormous influence on his life.

    During that same year, Robert Schumann, his composition student Albert Dietrich as well as Brahms decided to compose a violin sonata as a joint venture and as a surprise gift for Joachim. Dietrich composed the first movement, Schumann the second and Brahms the third. The front page of the manuscript score was inscribed by Schumann with the title F.A.E., standing for Joachim's motto "Frei aber Einsam" (free but lonely). Brahms seems not to have considered publishing his Allegro movement, and had the autograph remained in his possession he would doubtlessly have destroyed it, like many other compositions. Finally, in 1906, Joachim allowed the Deutsche Brahms-Gesellschaft to publish the work.

    An important part of this edition is the Preface. Firstly it informs about the work's origin and publication. Truly remarkable is the unique detailed Performance Practice Commentary. Here the editors start from the premise that already a few decades after Brahms' death, a widening gulf developed between the composer's expectations and the performance practices of the early 20th century. On the basis of manifold sources which include memoirs by pupils and chamber music partners, treatises and essays, early instructive editions and historical recordings, the editors deal with key issues in understanding Brahms' notation. By a section-by-section analysis of rhythm and timing, dynamics and accentuation, dots and strokes, slurring and non legato, piano pedalling and overholding, piano arpeggiation and dislocation, string instrument fingering, string instrument harmonics and vibrato, the editors provide an indispensable assistance for a historically informed interpretation of the work.