The 3 Intermezzi Op. 117 were composed in 1892 and are among the best-loved and most popular of Brahms‘ autumnal late piano output. On a smaller and more intimate scale than the surrounding sets of Op. 116, Op. 118 and Op. 119, the composer described these pieces as “lullabies to my sorrows”. Here we find Brahms at his most tender and introspective, with only one outburst (in the third Intermezzo) of the characteristic Brahmsian fieryness. The Intermezzi were inspired by a Scottish poem from Herder’s Volkslieder, and bear this inscription:
Schlaf sanft mein Kind, schlaf sanft und Schön!
Mich dauert’s sehr, dich weinen sehn.
Sleep softly my child, sleep softly and well!
It hurts my heart to see you weeping.
Piano: Idil Biret
Picture: Winter, Close of Day by George Innes