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    Cans and Brahms

    I know why Rick was prevented from contributing one of his own compositions on Fragile, and ended up doing a keyboard arrangement of the 3rd Movement of Brahms Symphony No.4, but I've always wondered what prompted him to choose that particular piece of music to adapt?
    I like the music of Brahms very much, and I know most of it quite well, both his orchestral and chamber works, so I'm familiar with the Fourth Symphony in its entirety.
    Anyone have any idea why this piece, rather than something by Prokofiev or Rachmaninov, for example, both composers I know Rick admires a lot?

    And: Had Rick not opted for Brahms, what other piece of classical music, and bearing in mind the time constraints of the vinyl record, migh he have considered adapting?
    Last edited by Ash Armstrong; 12-16-2021, 05:17 PM.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
    Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

    #2
    I have kind of wondered about that as well. My guess would be that it happened to be something he was playing with at home already when he joined the band and started work on Fragile. Would be interested to know if there was more to it though.

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      #3
      Originally posted by Ash Armstrong View Post
      Anyone have any idea why this piece, rather than something by Prokofiev or Rachmaninov, for example, both composers I know Rick admires a lot?

      And: Had Rick not opted for Brahms, what other piece of classical music, and bearing in mind the time constraints of the vinyl record, migh he have considered adapting?
      My wild guess would be that Prokofiev and Rachmaninov were too serious. This Brahms piece is more light hearted and Rick was (is) always looking for a bit of fun.
      So maybe something from the Nutcracker might have been an option. Although that is somewhat cliche, and was then too.
      Last edited by Ceasar’s Palace; 10-04-2022, 06:05 AM.

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        #4
        Originally posted by Ceasar’s Palace View Post

        My wild guess would be that Prokofiev and Rachmaninov were to serious. This Brahms piece is more light hearted and Rick was (is) always looking for a bit of fun.
        So maybe something from the Nutcracker might have been an option. Although that is somewhat cliche, and was then too.
        Brahms not serious? I suppose the Allegro Giacoso was just about the closest thing Brahms wrote to a scherzo, so it is probably the least serious movement in all of his symphonic output.

        There are two-piano versions of all the symphonies and I think they all started out being sketched on the piano [Brahms being a virtuoso on that instrument].

        My guess with this is that Wakeman had probably done academic exercises based on piano transcriptions, so it was an obvious thing for him to adapt this work for his electric keyboard array.

        There's something very organic about Brahms' arrangements - it's almost as if the orchestra is one instrument in Brahms, which leads sometimes to the criticism he isn't 'colourful' enough. But I think Rick does a pretty good job of encapsulating that with his take on the piece.

        I know it's not a favourite among Yesfans, but it is a piece of music by one of the greatest men of music we're blessed with the work of. I think it's the single greatest thing Mr Wakeman contributed to the band.

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          #5
          Originally posted by Chris2210 View Post

          Brahms not serious? I suppose the Allegro Giacoso was just about the closest thing Brahms wrote to a scherzo, so it is probably the least serious movement in all of his symphonic output.

          There are two-piano versions of all the symphonies and I think they all started out being sketched on the piano [Brahms being a virtuoso on that instrument].

          My guess with this is that Wakeman had probably done academic exercises based on piano transcriptions, so it was an obvious thing for him to adapt this work for his electric keyboard array.

          There's something very organic about Brahms' arrangements - it's almost as if the orchestra is one instrument in Brahms, which leads sometimes to the criticism he isn't 'colourful' enough. But I think Rick does a pretty good job of encapsulating that with his take on the piece.

          I know it's not a favourite among Yesfans, but it is a piece of music by one of the greatest men of music we're blessed with the work of. I think it's the single greatest thing Mr Wakeman contributed to the band.
          I hadn't considered piano transcription exercises. Good call Chris.
          Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
          Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

          Comment


            #6
            Ok, ok, I never said I was an expert in classical music, though I do like some of it. But you’ve got to admit that, at least Rick’s excerpt, sounds quite upbeat and cheerful...

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              #7
              It is upbeat and cheerful, which makes it unique among the sixteen movements in Brahms' symphonies - I wasn't arguing with that. I think overall though that Brahms would be considered more 'serious' than Rachmaninov, or especially Prokofiev, who could be very witty and lighthearted.

              When it comes to Brahms I suppose I can get as prickly as he was reputed to sometimes be - I don't rate anyone more highly.

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                #8
                Rank your 10 favs:

                1 Brahms Symphony No.1
                2 Prokofiev Symphony No.5
                3 Prokofiev Symphony No.1
                4 Brahms Symphony No.3
                5 Prokofiev Symphony No.7
                6 Prokofiev Symphony No.6
                7 Brahms Symphony No.2
                8 Brahms Symphony No.4
                9 Rachmaninov Symphony No.1
                10 Rachmaninov Symphony No.2


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                  #9
                  I was blown away the first time a friend dropped the needle on Roundabout. My jaw hit the floor when the organ solo hit.

                  Then there was Cans and Brahms. As a classical pianist I'm terribly impressed at how upfront this keyboardist is with the band.

                  And this is the sort of thing I'd have loved to have done had I the equipment back then.

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                    #10
                    Not sure why he chose Brahms over something more bombastic or dynamic from say, one of the Russian composers like Prokofiev or Rimsky-Korsakov etc. It's well done, and I agree - fun, sprightly and light. It is a bit unusual in the Yes catalogue.

                    I also like how he chose his keyboard sounds for each instrument. It's not a big synth & hammond overkill thing, it's more of the one-man orchestra approach. I like how it's mostly piano, electric piano etc. I assume he may have wanted to avoid comparisons to Keith Emerson by not having a rocked-up version of a well loved classical composition. I always liked the Cans & Brahms track, and I admit I've only heard the whole Brahms symphony once and don't remember much. I like a bit of classical but never seem to get around to listening to much of it these days.

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