Double Concerto (Brahms)
Origin of the work
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. Brahms approached the project with anxiety over writing for instruments that were not his own. He wrote it for the cellist Robert Hausmann, a frequent chamber music collaborator, 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. (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"). 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.
The composition consists of three movements in the fast-slow-fast pattern typical of classical instrumental concertos:
- Allegro (A minor)
- Andante (D major)
- Vivace non troppo (A minor → A major)
Performance and criticism
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". 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". It has always been hampered by its requirement for two brilliant and equally matched soloists.
Richard Cohn has included the first movement of this concerto in his discussions of triadic progressions from a Neo-Riemannian perspective. Cohn has also analysed such progressions mathematically. 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.
- Jacques Thibaud and Pablo Casals, Orquestra Pau Casals cond. Alfred Cortot (1929).
- Jascha Heifetz and Emanuel Feuermann, Philadelphia Orchestra cond. Eugene Ormandy (1939).
- Adolf Busch and Herman Busch, French National Radio Orchestra cond. Paul Kletzki (live Strasbourg 1949).
- Georg Kulenkampff and Enrico Mainardi, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande cond. Carl Schuricht (1947).
- Nathan Milstein and Gregor Piatigorsky, Philadelphia Robin Hood Dell Orchestra cond. Fritz Reiner (1951).
- Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra cond. Alfred Wallenstein.
- Gioconda de Vito and Amadeo Baldovino, Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Rudolf Schwarz (1952).
- Jean Fournier and Antonio Janigro, Vienna State Opera Orchestra cond. Hermann Scherchen.
- Alfredo Campoli and André Navarra, Hallé Orchestra cond. John Barbirolli.
- Josef Suk and André Navarra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Karel Ančerl (c.1963).
- Willi Boskovsky and Emanuel Brabec, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Wilhelm Furtwängler (1950 live recording).
- Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Enrico Mainardi, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Karl Böhm.
- Wolfgang Schneiderhan and János Starker, Orchestra of Radio-Symphonie Berlin cond. Ferenc Fricsay.
- Henryk Szeryng and János Starker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra cond. Bernard Haitink.
- Emmy Verhey and János Starker, Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Arpad Joó.
- Isaac Stern and Leonard Rose, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York cond. Bruno Walter.
- Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma, Chicago Symphony Orchestra cond. Claudio Abbado.
- Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma, New York Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Zubin Mehta
- Gidon Kremer and Mischa Maisky, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Leonard Bernstein.
- David Oistrakh and Pierre Fournier, Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Alceo Galliera.
- David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich, Cleveland Orchestra cond. George Szell.
- David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Kirill Kondrashin (live 1963).
- Salvatore Accardo and Siegfried Palm, Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RTV Italiana cond Bruno Maderna (live 1961 Milan).
- Zino Francescatti and Samuel H. Mayes, Boston Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Munch (live rec. April 1956)
- Zino Francescatti and Pierre Fournier, Columbia Symphony Orchestra cond. Bruno Walter.
- Zino Francescatti and Pierre Fournier, BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. Colin Davis.
- Itzhak Perlman and Mstislav Rostropovich, Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Bernard Haitink.
- Christian Ferras and Paul Tortelier, Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Paul Kletzki.
- Yehudi Menuhin and Paul Tortelier, London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Paavo Berglund (1984).
- Yehudi Menuhin and Maurice Gendron, London Symphony Orchestra cond. Istvan Kertesz (Bath Festival 1964).
- Yehudi Menuhin and Leslie Parnas, Casals Festival Orchestra cond. Pablo Casals (1969).
- Yan Pascal Tortelier and Paul Tortelier, BBC Symphony Orchestra cond. John Pritchard (1974).
- Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, Chicago Symphony Orchestra cond. Daniel Barenboim.
- Vadim Repin and Truls Mørk, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra cond. Riccardo Chailly.
- Gil Shaham and Jian Wang, Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Claudio Abbado.
- Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Yakov Kreizberg.
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- Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra: program notes
- 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.
- For Hausmann he had written the Second Cello Sonata the previous summer.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- HMV DB1311-1314/Victor V-8208-8211.
- HMV/Victor 78rpm:Naxos CD
- Music and Arts MACD 108
- Decca 78rpm AK2025-2028: Archipel CD ARPCD 0301
- Naxos CD 8.111051
- RCA LD(S)2513
- 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  here.
- HMV BLP 1028
- Fournier and Janigro played together with Paul Badura-Skoda in a trio ensemble.
- Westminster LP WLP 5117.
- (Pye Golden Guinea GGC 4009).
- Supraphon LP SUA ST 50573.
- Cellist of the Barylli Quartet, Brabec was teacher of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at Vienna.
- Dynamic IDIS Hist. CD IDI 6554
- Schneiderhan succeeded Georg Kulenkampff as violin in the trio ensemble with Mainardi and Edwin Fischer after Kulenkampff died.
- Orfeo CD C 359941B
- CD DG 4775341
- Australian Eloquence CD 4643092
- Brilliant classics CD 93249
- Philips LP ABL 3139/3289.
- CBS Masterworks Mk 42387
- DGG DVD 000983409
- HMV/EMI SXLP 30185
- HMV ASD 3312
- BBC CD L41972
- Palm was a pupil of Mainardi's, and a President of the European String Teachers' Association: see interview  here.
- Movimento Musica srl Milano (WEA Italiana) 01.017 33/30 DP
- Samuel H. Mayes
- Music and Arts, West Hill Radio Archive WHRA 6017
- CBS LP SBRG 72087
- BBC CD L41492
- EMI CDC 7 49486 2
- Testament CD SBT 1337
- EMI EG 27 0268 1
- BBC CD L4252 2
- Leslie Parnas
- Doremi CD DHR 7844
- BBC CD L42362
- Warner Classics CD Maestro 2564673668
- CD DG 4777470
- CD DG 4695292
- PTC 5186 066 PentaTone Classics
- History of the Double Concerto(Dead Link)
- Classical Notes - Johannes Brahms Double Concerto
- Adaptation of the work as a Cello Concerto
- Andrews University Symphony Orchestra, January 27, 2007 notes
- Double Concerto: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Copyist's manuscript with composer's annotations at The Juilliard Manuscript Collection