VFCO / Mäkelä / Lozakovich / Maisky

Brahms, Schumann

Salle des Combins - 27 July 2021


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Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77

 Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61

Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 129
Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61

Brahms wrote his Violin Concerto in 1878 for his great friend, Hungarian violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim. Joachim’s national heritage is clearly heard in its gypsyish finale, while the first movement’s demanding violin writing reflects his famed technical mastery. Its Adagio opens with one of the orchestral repertoire’s most beautiful solos, for oboe. Brahms’s early champion, Robert Schumann, composed his Second Symphony in 1845 during his first creative spurt after a mental collapse. Its own Adagio also features memorable woodwind solos, and although the influence of Bach is everywhere, the person it most honours is his wife Clara. Notably by the finale’s use of a motive based on Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved) song cycle, which had had especial resonance for him during their protracted engagement.

Schumann’s original label for his Cello Concerto was in fact ‘Concerto for Cello with Orchestral Accompaniment‘, which is reflected in the soloist’s prominence. Composed in 1851, three years before the suicide attempt that had him committed, its three seamlessly running movements often feel like the product of a darkly restless mind. It’s also tightly thematically bound, for instance through its tender second movement echoing back to the first movement, before proceeding to its tense finale. By contrast, the Second Symphony is a hope-filled work, composed as he emerged from his mental breakdown of 1844. Also one over which the spirit of Bach often hovers, audible in the noble opening’s chorale-like quality, and the (otherwise modern-sounding) Adagio‘s long-breathed theme based on A Musical Offering.