"The work is splendid, but it cannot be called a sonata. Rather it is a work so full of ideas that it requires an orchestra for its interpretation. These ideas are for the most part lost on the piano. The first time I tried the work I had a feeling that it was an arrangement. So please remodel it once more!" Clara Schumann to Brahms, July 1864.

The history of Brahms’s great Piano Quintet op. 34 is unusual: Brahms was not sure which orchestration would suit the work best. He first wrote the piece as a String Quintet. But Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim disliked that version and encouraged Brahms to rework it. Joachim, in particular, thought it was too dense and complicated. Brahms remodelled the work for two pianos, and destroyed the string quintet version. Still, Clara Schumann was dissatisfied. She famously concluded that the work was “so full of ideas that it needs an orchestra for its interpretation.”
Brahms did not follow Clara’s suggestion. He chose a compromise between the string quintet and two pianos: the piano quintet (piano, two violins, viola, cello). But what if he had followed her idea? The present orchestration of the Scherzo and Finale, realized as much as possible in the style of Brahms, explores that tantalizing avenue.
The orchestration can be performed in full, or with two movements only (Scherzo and Finale). The full duration is about 43 minutes; the Scherzo and Finale last about 20 minutes. It is scored for two flutes (2nd also plays piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets (Bb), two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings. Parts are available for rental.