Paul Cantrell’s music blog & podcast
Piano music old and new from a devoted amateur,
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Brahms Intermezzo 117.2 (remastered)

Ahoy there. It’s been a while! I’ve been busy. It’s a sad fact of life that I have bills to pay, and in spite of the tremendous generosity of some of this podcast’s listeners, a whole year’s worth of donations to In the Hands don’t even cover a month’s rent. So, I’ve been working — which is not entirely a bad thing: it’s a good job, I like the other people, and I’m working on interesting stuff … but it’s just amazing how much time a job takes! Forty hours a week is a lot.

Anyway, having settled in to the new schedule of this job, solved my car woes, completed another successful Keys Please, and done some traveling (I went to Québec and practiced my French!), I’m now turning my attention back to my poor, neglected site. To get things started again, here’s an old recording freshly remastered with the new process.

This is a late Brahms intermezzo. (Regular readers know how much I love that!) As I wrote before, it’s a wonderfully ambiguous piece. I suppose not everybody might think of ambiguity as being a compliment or a desirable thing, but I do. One of music’s magical abilities is to be ambiguous in the way that life is ambiguous, that the moment-to-moment experience of consciousness is ambiguous. We have a very natural desire to understand music, to try to figure out what it “means” and what we’re supposed to think about it. Music, however, doesn’t like to be pigeonholed that way. In real life, we don’t experience emotions one at a time, or in black and white — we usually make sense of them in retrospect, finding names and narratives only as we look back on experience. Music works that way as well, and gives us a way of distilling and becoming comfortable with all the confusingly multiple moment-to-moment ebb and flow of our minds and hearts. It is a way of looking back on our own experience without flattening it the way ordinary words can. It’s often hard to say even whether a piece is basically happy or sad — and that is a wonderful thing if you embrace it.

Certainly embracing it is certainly necessary in this piece. It’s hard to say exactly what it is, or what it’s about, or to name how it feels, but the raw experience of it — if we don’t try to name it — is wonderful.

Intermezzo Op 117 No 2
Paul Cantrell, piano

Next up, I’ll be sharing some excerpts from February’s Keys Please, which will be a fun change of pace for In the Hands. There will even be instruments other than piano; brace yourselves!