Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 15 – arranged by Peter Breiner (PB016)
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Instrumentation: 2+1, 2, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 1 - timp - perc - str
It was from his early contacts with the violinist Eduard Reményi that Brahms first learnt something of Hungarian gypsy music, and he never lost his love for it.
He assembled his first two sets of Hungarian Dances for piano duet (Nos. 1–10) in autumn 1868, noting to his publisher Fritz Simrock: 'They are incidentally genuine children of the Puszta and Gypsies – not, therefore, created by me, rather just reared on bread and milk.'
The dances were published in 1869, becoming immediately and enduringly popular.
Breiner builds on Brahmsian precedent by giving a prominent role to the percussion and transposing two of the dances. But especially in his imaginative use of brass in Nos. 4, 6 and 8, his additional accompanimental figures in the da capo of No. 4, extra upbeat flourishes in Nos. 4 and 6, harmonic enrichment in No. 7, he sets the dances in an excitingly fresh light. Brahms, who was intolerant of tameness in arranging, would surely have approved.