Double Concerto (Brahms)

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The Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102, by Johannes Brahms is a concerto for violin, cello and orchestra. The orchestra consists of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns (4), trumpets, timpani and strings.

Origin of the work[edit]

The Double Concerto was Brahms' final work for orchestra. It was composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on 18 October of that year in the Gürzenich in Köln, Germany.[1] Brahms approached the project with anxiety over writing for instruments that were not his own.[2] He wrote it for the cellist Robert Hausmann, a frequent chamber music collaborator,[3] and his old but estranged friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. The concerto was, in part, a gesture of reconciliation towards Joachim, after their long friendship had ruptured following Joachim's divorce from his wife Amalie.[4][5] (Brahms had sided with Amalie in the dispute.)

The concerto makes use of the musical motif A-E-F, a permutation of F-A-E, which stood for a personal motto of Joachim, Frei aber einsam ("free but lonely").[6] Thirty-four years earlier, Brahms had been involved in a collaborative work using the F-A-E motif in tribute to Joachim: the F-A-E Sonata of 1853.

Structure[edit]

The composition consists of three movements in the fast-slow-fast pattern typical of classical instrumental concertos:

  1. Allegro (A minor)
  2. Andante (D major)
  3. Vivace non troppo (A minor → A major)

Performance and criticism[edit]

Joachim and Hausmann repeated the concerto, with Brahms at the podium, several times in its initial 1887-88 season, and Brahms gave the manuscript to Joachim, with the inscription "To him for whom it was written." Clara Schumann reacted unfavourably to the concerto, considering the work "not brilliant for the instruments".[7] Richard Specht also thought critically of the concerto, describing it as "one of Brahms' most inapproachable and joyless compositions". Brahms had sketched a second concerto for violin and cello but destroyed his notes in the wake of its cool reception. Later critics have warmed to it: Donald Tovey wrote of the concerto as having "vast and sweeping humour".[8] It has always been hampered by its requirement for two brilliant and equally matched soloists.

Scholarly discussion[edit]

Richard Cohn has included the first movement of this concerto in his discussions of triadic progressions from a Neo-Riemannian perspective.[9] Cohn has also analysed such progressions mathematically.[10] Cohn notes several progressions that divide the octave equally into three parts, and which can be analyzed using the triadic transformations proposed by Hugo Riemann.

Discography[edit]

Media[edit]

Performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra. Courtesy of Musopen

Performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra. Courtesy of Musopen

Performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra. Courtesy of Musopen

Problems playing these files? See media help.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra: program notes
  2. ^ He disguised his reservations with joyless joking in his letter to Clara Schumann: "...I have had the amusing idea of writing a concerto for violin and cello. If it is at all successful it might give us some fun. You can well imagine the sort of pranks one might play in such a case," he wrote, adding "I ought to have handed on the idea to some who knows the violin better than I do." Litzmann, Schumann/Brahms Letters 8/1887, quoted by Jan Swafford, Johannes Brahms: a biography 1997:539.
  3. ^ For Hausmann he had written the Second Cello Sonata the previous summer.
  4. ^ "This concerto is a work of reconciliation— Joachim and Brahms have spoken to each other again for the first time in years", Clara Schumann noted in her journal after a rehearsal in Baden-Baden in September 1887.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Boris (Autumn 1983). "Joseph Joachim and the Genesis of Brahms's Violin Concerto". The Musical Quarterly LXIX (4): 503–526. doi:10.1093/mq/LXIX.4.503. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  6. ^ Musgrave, Michael (July 1983). "Brahms's First Symphony: Thematic Coherence and Its Secret Origin". Music Analysis (Music Analysis, Vol. 2, No. 2) 2 (2): 117–133. doi:10.2307/854245. ISSN 0262-5245. JSTOR 854245. 
  7. ^ Wollenberg, Susan (February 1993). "Reviews of Books: Beiträge zur Geschichte des Konzerts: Festschrift Siegfried Kross zum 60. Geburtstag (eds. Reinmar Emans and Matthias Wendt". Music & Letters 74 (1): 77–81. doi:10.1093/ml/74.1.77. ISSN 0027-4224. JSTOR 735204. 
  8. ^ Stein, George P. (October 1971). "The Arts: Being through Meaning". Journal of Aesthetic Education (Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 5, No. 4) 5 (4): 99–113. doi:10.2307/3331623. ISSN 0021-8510. JSTOR 3331623. 
  9. ^ Cohn, Richard (March 1996). "Maximally Smooth Cycles, Hexatonic Systems, and the Analysis of Late-Romantic Triadic Progressions". Music Analysis (Music Analysis, Vol. 15, No. 1) 15 (1): 9–40. doi:10.2307/854168. ISSN 0262-5245. JSTOR 854168. 
  10. ^ Cohn, Richard (Spring 1997). "Neo-Riemannian Operations, Parsimonious Trichords, and Their Tonnetz Representations". Journal of Musical Theory (Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 41, No. 1) 41 (1): 1–66. doi:10.2307/843761. ISSN 0022-2909. JSTOR 843761. 
  11. ^ HMV DB1311-1314/Victor V-8208-8211.
  12. ^ HMV/Victor 78rpm:Naxos CD
  13. ^ Music and Arts MACD 108
  14. ^ Decca 78rpm AK2025-2028: Archipel CD ARPCD 0301
  15. ^ Naxos CD 8.111051
  16. ^ RCA LD(S)2513
  17. ^ Student of Camillo Oblach's at the G.B. Martini School of Music, Bologna, Baldovino was cellist with the Trio Italiano d'Archi and the Trio di Trieste: see [1] here.
  18. ^ HMV BLP 1028
  19. ^ Fournier and Janigro played together with Paul Badura-Skoda in a trio ensemble.
  20. ^ Westminster LP WLP 5117.
  21. ^ (Pye Golden Guinea GGC 4009).
  22. ^ Supraphon LP SUA ST 50573.
  23. ^ Cellist of the Barylli Quartet, Brabec was teacher of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Vienna.
  24. ^ Dynamic IDIS Hist. CD IDI 6554
  25. ^ Schneiderhan succeeded Georg Kulenkampff as violin in the trio ensemble with Mainardi and Edwin Fischer after Kulenkampff died.
  26. ^ Orfeo CD C 359941B
  27. ^ CD DG 4775341
  28. ^ Australian Eloquence CD 4643092
  29. ^ Brilliant classics CD 93249
  30. ^ Philips LP ABL 3139/3289.
  31. ^ CBS Masterworks Mk 42387
  32. ^ DGG DVD 000983409
  33. ^ HMV/EMI SXLP 30185
  34. ^ HMV ASD 3312
  35. ^ BBC CD L41972
  36. ^ Palm was a pupil of Mainardi's, and a President of the European String Teachers' Association: see interview [2] here.
  37. ^ Movimento Musica srl Milano (WEA Italiana) 01.017 33/30 DP
  38. ^ Samuel H. Mayes
  39. ^ Music and Arts, West Hill Radio Archive WHRA 6017
  40. ^ CBS LP SBRG 72087
  41. ^ BBC CD L41492
  42. ^ EMI CDC 7 49486 2
  43. ^ Testament CD SBT 1337
  44. ^ EMI EG 27 0268 1
  45. ^ BBC CD L4252 2
  46. ^ Leslie Parnas
  47. ^ Doremi CD DHR 7844
  48. ^ BBC CD L42362
  49. ^ Warner Classics CD Maestro 2564673668
  50. ^ CD DG 4777470
  51. ^ CD DG 4695292
  52. ^ PTC 5186 066 PentaTone Classics

External links[edit]