quarta-feira, 7 de abril de 2010
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Johannes Brahms (1833 -1897)Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833, the son of a double-bass player and his much older wife, a seamstress. His childhood was spent in relative poverty, and his early studies in music, for which he showed a natural aptitude, developed his talent to such an extent that there was talk of touring as a prodigy at the age of eleven. It was Eduard Marxsen who gave him a grounding in the technical basis of composition, while the boy helped his family by playing the piano in dockside taverns.
In 1851 Brahrns met the Hungarian violinist Reményi, who introduced him to Hungarian dance music. Two years later he set out in his company on his first concert tour, their journey taking them, on the recommendation of the Hungarian violinist Joachim, to Weimar, where Franz Liszt held court and might have been expected to show particular favour to a fellow-countryman. Reményi profited from the visit, but Brahms, with a lack of tact that was later accentuated, failed to impress the Master.
Later in the year, however, he met the Schumanns, through Joachim's agency. The meeting was a fruitful one. Schumann detected a promise of greatness in the music of Brahms and published his views in the journal he had once edited, the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, declaring Brahms the long-awaited successor to Beethoven.
Brahms had always hoped that sooner or later he would be able to return in triumph to a position of distinction in the musical life of Hamburg. This ambition was never fulfilled. Instead he settled in Vienna, intermittently from 1863 and definitively in 1869, establishing himself there and seeming to many to fulfil Schumann's early prophecy. In him his supporters, including, above all, the distinguished critic and writer Eduard Hanslick, saw a true successor to Beethoven and a champion of music untrammelled by extra-musical associations, of pure music, as opposed to the Music of the Future promoted by Wagner and Liszt, a path to which Joachim and Brahms both later publicly expressed their opposition
The monumental nature of much of the orchestral work of Brahms is in part a sign of the great pains that went into its construction. His first piano concerto, which made no concessions to contemporary taste, was, it seems, conceived originally as a sonata for two pianos. This then became a symphony, to reach its final metamorphosis as the Piano Concerto in D minor, Op. 15, completed in this form in 1859. The concerto had its first private rehearsals, with Brahms as soloist, in Hanover in 1858, with Joachim conducting. They introduced the work to the public in January the following year to a polite reception. This relative success persuaded Brahms to the more ambitious step of a performance in Leipzig with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Julius Rietz, once Mendelssohn's assistant in Düsseldorf and now established in Leipzig in succession to Niels W. Gade. The reaction of the audience to such a demanding work was hostile, with ironic applause from one or two and hissing from many. A well known critic found nothing good to say about the concerto and even less to commend in Brahms's performance as a pianist, at the time his principal means of earning a living.
His later supporter Hanslick, indeed, writing three years later, found that Brahms played more like a composer than a virtuoso, praising his honesty, his interpretative abilities, yet aware of inaccuracies however compelling the whole performance. A subsequent performance of the concerto in Hamburg met a better reception. In the following years the work gradually won wider acceptance, finding its way early into the repertoire of Clara Schumann, a strong advocate. The concerto is massive in its symphonic conception, described by one contemporary as a symphony with piano obbligato, and clearly posed problems to its first audiences, lacking any trivial or superficial brilliance in its writing and calling for sustained attention over its very considerable length. As the symphonies Brahms was to write might seem an extension of the work of Beethoven half a century earlier, so the first of his two piano concertos seemed to continue and develop the pattern set by Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. In November 1855 Brahms had appeared as a soloist with orchestra for the first time in a performance of that concerto and included Beethoven's Fourth Concerto and Mozart's D minor and C minor Concertos in his concert repertoire at this time. These all had an observable influence on his own writing.
The first movement opens with a feeling of tragic significance, the marked trills adding to its ominous nature, before a gentler element, a foretaste of the second subject, intervenes, followed by a sudden outburst from the orchestra, which returns to its opening mood, hushed only by the entry of the soloist. The pianist succumbs, in turn, to the initial theme with its fierce trills, leading to the second subject, a hymn-like theme announced by the soloist. The material is developed in a section that makes heavy demands on the solo instrument and the recapitulation brings its own surprising shifts of key. The massive first movement is followed by a contrasting slow movement. Over the melody of the Adagio Brahms wrote the words Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord), a reference, it is supposed, to his master, Schumann, although he is also said to have identified the movement with Clara Schumann The liturgical reference was later crossed out, in an attempt, to conceal, perhaps, such an overt display of feeling. A long-drawn theme is played by the strings, the bassoon joining the bass, with the piano adding its own meditation on the melody As in the first movement, the horns have a characteristically evocative part to play, however brief, while the piano continues its progress towards a new theme. The mood of the opening returns, extended in a cadenza of great serenity. The last movement, a Rondo, has a marked and energetic opening that may remind one of Beethoven, both in his Concerto in C minor and in other final movements, including, even, in some of the keyboard writing, that of the first piano sonata. The rondo form allows the inclusion of a number of contrasting ideas, an F major episode introduced by the piano and developed by the orchestra and a later episode introduced by the violins, but treated contrapuntally, as is the principal theme, before it has gone too far into a purely lyrical mood. A cadenza, marked quasi fantasia and using a dominant pedal-point, a sustained note to underpin changes of harmony, a feature characteristic of Brahms, leads to a moving conclusion.
Johannes Brahms (1833- 1897)Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833, the son of a double-bass player and his much older wife, a seamstress. His childhood was spent in relative poverty, and his early studies in music, for which he showed a natural aptitude, developed his talent to such an extent that there was talk of his touring as a prodigy at the age of eleven. It was Eduard Marxsen who gave him a firm grounding in the technical basis of composition, while the boy earned a living for himself by playing the piano in dockside taverns.
In 1851 Brahms met the Hungarian violinist Reményi, who introduced him to Hungarian dance music. Two years later he set out in his company on his first concert tour, their journey taking them, on the recommendation of the violinist Joachim, to Weimar, where Franz Liszt held court, a visit from which Reményi profited, while Brahms failed to impress the Master. Later in the year Brahms met Schnmann, again through Joachim's agency. The meeting was a fruitful one. Schumann detected a promise of greatness in the music of Brahms and published his views in the journal he had once edited, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, declaring Brahms the long-awaited successor to Beethoven.
Brahms had always hoped that sooner or later he would be able to return in triumph to a position of distinction in the musical life of Hamburg. This ambition was never fulfilled. Instead he settled in Vienna in 1863 and established himself there, seeming to many to fulfil, as the years went by, Schumann's prophecy, much to the chagrin of Wagner and his supporters, who saw the succession to Beethoven in a very different light. Unlike the latter Brahms attempted no Gesammtkunstwerk and no amalgamation of the arts, as Liszt had attempted in his symphonic poems. To his friends Brahms seemed the champion of pure or abstract music without any extra-musical associations.
"The long terror" was Brahms's description of his second piano concerto, a massively impressive work completed in 1881 and falling between the second and third of the four symphonies in order of composition. Brahms had started work on the concerto in 1878 and finished the score in the summer of 1881, which he spent happily at Pressbaum, near Vienna. For its first performance in November, 1881, the composer appeared as soloist in Pest, following this, later in the same month, with performances nearer home with the Meiningen Court Orchestra under Hans von Bülow, who had espoused the cause of Brahms with the eagerness and enthusiasm that he had once shown for Wagner, before the latter eloped with his wife Cosima, illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt. Brahms played the concerto in various towns with the Meiningen orchestra. In Vienna, however, where the first performance of the concerto took place in 1884, the critic Eduard Hanslick, a firm friend of Brahms, could only speak with reserve of the composer's technical ability as a pianist whatever his admiration for the concerto itself, praising his rhythmic strength and masculine authority, and remarking that Brahms now had more important things to do than practise a few hours a day, a kind excuse for any technical imperfections there might have been in his playing.
The first movement of the B flat major Piano Concerto opens with a dialogue between the orchestra and soloist, initiated by the French horn. The orchestra adds a second important element to the thematic material, to be interrupted by a longish piano solo. On its return the orchestra has a third item of significance to add, before the piano turns expansively to the opening melody, as the movement takes its impressive course.
The second movement, a form of scherzo, in the key of D minor, is on the same enormous scale. It is followed by a slow movement, in which a solo cello proposes the first, tranquil theme, later to be varied by the soloist, before the appearance of other material, the pianist playing music of simple and limpid beauty above a low cello F sharp, accompanied by two clarinets. This brief passage of quiet meditation leads to the return of the first theme from the solo cello and the end of the movement.
The concerto ends with a rondo that happily dispels any anxieties that might have lurked in the more ominous comers of the preceding movements, its mood inherited from Mozart and Beethoven, Brahms's great predecessors in Vienna.