Recorded on 07/02/2002, uploaded on 03/31/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
"BRAHMS AND JOACHIM VIOLIN CONCERTOS"by Rachel Barton Pine
... The first movement of the Brahms Concerto follows the example of both Joachim and Beethoven in integrating the solo part with the orchestral writing. Often the solo violin plays counter-melody while other instruments play the main material. Brahms left the composition of the cadenza to the performer. Joachim wrote his own cadenza, which remains the one most frequently performed. There is some evidence that Brahms had a hand in its creation. Brahms wrote to Elizabet von Herzogenberg of an early performance, "the Cadenza sounded so beautiful at the actual concert that the public applauded it into the start of the Coda."
The Brahms Concerto is often described as "masculine," due in large part to its robust first movement. I am continually awed by the majestic and inexorable qualities of such sections as the opening solo and the broken octaves in the development. If the Beethoven Concerto captures the beauty of God's creation, the Brahms Concerto conveys its magnitude and power.
Many in the first generation of violinists exposed to the concerto did not recognize its brilliance. Referring to the second movement, Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate complained that he had to stand on stage while the oboe played the only good melody in the whole piece. This comment illustrates the difference between the straightforward melodic concept of the Franco-Belgian virtuoso school and the more complex treatment employed by Brahms and his musical compatriots. Simple in structure, this movement contains some of the most profoundly beautiful music ever written for the violin.
Brahms drew inspiration for the third movement from the Finale of Joachim's "Hungarian" Concerto. Here Brahms's rhythmic vitality and melodic exuberance evoke the same mood as do other Hungarian-inspired works, but without relying on gypsy tunes or the gypsy scale. Unlike the headlong rush that concludes the Joachim Concerto, the poco piu presto at the end of the Brahms calls for a march-like, steady beat, and even implies a slight ritard in the final bars. Nonetheless, both concertos end with D-major chords that confer a feeling of genuine, well-earned triumph.
Despite the Brahms Violin Concerto's decidedly mixed initial reception, it has become one of the most popular and beloved works in the violin repertoire. In contrast, Joachim's "Hungarian" Concerto will be a real discovery for many modern listeners. I hope that awareness of the Joachim Concerto's influence will shed new light on the Brahms Concerto and that Joachim's masterpiece will one day reclaim the great appreciation it once enjoyed.
1 - letter to Woldemar Bargiel, April 7, 18532 - Frederic Emery, The Violin Concerto, 19283 - Joseph Joachim and Andreas Moser, Violinschule, 1902-05
About the CadenzasThis recording includes two different cadenzas for the Brahms Concerto. When I repeat the Concerto in a series of concerts with the same orchestra, I often play a different cadenza each night, alternating my favorites - by Ysaye, Kreisler, and Maud Powell - with the one I composed. For a recording that emphasizes the relationship between Brahms and Joachim, it seemed appropriate to perform Joachim's original cadenza in the context of the complete concerto. I felt, however, that my interpretation would be incomplete if I did not also include an organic reflection of my own ideas about Brahms's composition.
Therefore, track 5 of the Brahms disc begins with my cadenza and continues with the orchestra to the end of the movement. To hear it in context, listen to the first movement up to the end of track 1, then immediately advance the disc to track 5. (You can do this manually if it is not possible to program your CD player in advance.) I hope you will enjoy the variety offered by these two different conclusions to Brahms's first movement.
About the ViolinIt was a special privilege to play the 1742 Joseph Guarneri "del Gesu" violin known as the "ex-Soldat" for this album because the instrument has an intimate connection to this repertoire.
In 1875, an extremely talented young musician named Marie Soldat (1863-1955) decided to give up the violin to develop her talents in piano and voice. Hearing Joseph Joachim perform in Graz three years later, however, inspired her to return to the violin, and to study with him.
Marie Soldat was introduced to Brahms at Pörtschach during a summer tour of Austrian spas in 1879. After hearing her play, he arranged a benefit performance to help pay for her studies. Brahms also gave her money for a train ticket to join him and Joachim in Salzburg. When she began to play the Mendelssohn Concerto with Brahms at the piano, the strings on her violin snapped. Joachim handed her his Stradivari, and her performance was so impressive that Joachim accepted her into his class at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.
Soldat (later Soldat-Röger) became a member of Brahms's inner circle and a regular chamber music partner. Their friendship continued throughout his life. The famed pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow once introduced her as "Brahms's understudy."
Soldat was widely considered one of the greatest violinists of her day. She studied the Brahms Concerto with both Joachim and Brahms, and it became her signature piece. She introduced it to many European cities, including Vienna in 1885, with Hans Richter conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. She gave it its second performance in Berlin, with Joachim conducting.
Brahms selected this violin for Soldat in 1897 and arranged for a wealthy Viennese businessman to purchase it and loan it to her for her lifetime. The Strad, in 1910, remarked that "...[it] bears most of the characteristics we have learnt to associate with this maker in a remarkable degree. The tone is of extraordinary beauty, and suits the violinist's virile style admirably.... The tone is full and rich, and noticeably deep on the G string. All the outlines of the fiddle seem to breathe life and strength."
I like to think that Brahms chose this violin, in part, because its voice represents most closely what he envisioned for his concerto. I hope you enjoy hearing the sound of this amazing instrument as much as I enjoyed playing it.
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A brilliant and natural interpretation. No gimmicks. Bravo.
Excellent - beautifully performed
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