Brahms, Johannes: Op. 11, Serenade No. 1 (arr. Alan Boustead for Nonet)

Something called a divertimento, whatever it may be, ought not to be a heavy thing.  And Johannes Brahms, whatever his virtues, did write a good deal of music which can become heavy – sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes not.  Charles Ives remarks on this in his Essays before a Sonata:
To think hard and deeply and to say what is thought, regardless of consequences, may produce a first impression, either of great translucence, or of great muddiness, but in the latter there may be hidden possibilities. Some accuse Brahms’ orchestration of being muddy. This may be a good name for a first impression of it. But if it should seem less so, he might not be saying what he thought.
Recordings and performances of Brahms are often judged on whether they can avoid falling into polyrhythmical webs and bass-heavy pits – traps set unintentionally by a composer who seriously intended, as Ives notes, to ‘say what he thought’.

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