Friday, April 20, 2012

Miontage #52 - Brahms and the violin / Brahms et le violon


As of May 25, 2012, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 25 mai 2012, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:


http://archive.org/details/BrahmsAndTheViolin


pcast052 Playlist

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English Commentary – le commentaire français suit



When it comes to Brahms and the violin, one name is not far behind. Joseph Joachim (1831 – 1907) was a Hungarian violinist, conductor, composer and teacher. A close collaborator of Johannes Brahms, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant violinists of the 19th century. Joachim and Brahms, along with Clara Schumann, were not only close friends, but Joachim was the man Brahms turned to for advice when it came to violin parts in his works, as well as the man who was the dedicacee and first performer of all the works we have on the docket today.


Composed during the Summer of 1878 for and with the advice of Joachim, the violin concerto in D Minor  was premiered on January 1st 1879 in Leipzig with Brahms conducting the Gewandhaus orchestra and Joachim as soloist. The concerto follows the traditional Fast-Slow-Fast three movement formula, though Brahms had originally intended an additional movement (a scherzo), formula adopted by Bruch in his Scottish Fantasy and by Brahms himself in his second piano concerto (heard last week).

Joachim placed the Brahms concerto at the top of the German violin concerto repertoire along with the Mendelssohn E Minor concerto and Bethoven’s (also in D). However, not all of Brahms’ contemporaries thought the same – conductor Hans von Bülow called it a concerto “against” violin (rather than for violin), and many contemporary composers (Debussy, Faure, Lalo among them) expressed harsh opinions. Henryk Wieniawski called the work "unplayable", and the violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate refused to play it because he didn't want to "stand on the rostrum, violin in hand and listen to the oboe playing the only tune in the adagio." That having been said, the public reception was extremely favourable, and the concerto’s enduring popularity and utmost difficulty make it a staple of the concerto repertoire

The Brahms Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78, was composed during the summers of 1878 and 1879 in Pörtschach am Wörthersee. It was first performed on 8 November 1879 in Bonn. Each of three movements of this sonata shares common thematic materials from the head-motif of Brahms’s two songs "Regenlied" and "Nachklang", Op. 59, and this is why this sonata is also called Rain Sonata (Regen-Sonate).



Joachim’s bitter divorce and Brahm’s apparent siding with his wife led to a cooling of Brahms and Joachim's friendship, which was not restored until some years later, when Brahms composed the Double Concerto in A minor for violin and cello, Op. 102, as a peace offering to his old friend. It was co-dedicated to the first performers, Joachim and Robert Hausmann.

To close our montage, I chose to feature a movement from an adaptation of the op. 77 concerto, this one by pianist Dejan Lazic (see the clip embedded in the French commentary), replacing thge solo violin by a piano. The result, discussed in a past Chronique du Disque, is both somewhat strange and equally surprising. Put aside your purist preconcepotions, and you may well be enchanted by the result!

I think you will love this music too.





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Commentaire français

On ne peut pas parler de Brahms et de violon sans souligner son grand ami, le violoniste et compositeur Joseph Joachim (1831 – 1907). Joachim a la distinction d'avoir conseillé Brahms en ce qui a trait aux parties pour violon de ses oeuvres de musique de chambre, et fut le dédicataire et soliste de la première heure des oeuvres primées dans le montage d'aujourd'hui.

Composé durant l'été de 1878, le concerto pour violon de Brahms fut créé à Leipzig le 1er janvier 1879, avec le compositeur aux coimmandes de l'orchestre du Gewandhaus avec Joachim comme soliste. Le concerto suit la formule usuelle des trois mouvements, mais aurait été conçu originalement avec un scherzo additionnel, donc en quatre mouvements - formule qu'il retiendra pour son deuxième concerto pour piano.

Joachim endossa le concerto de Brahms, le plaçant dans le panthéon des concerti du répertoire germanique (avec ceux de Beethiven et Mendelssohn). Toutefois, cet enthousiasme ne fait pas l'unanimité parmi les musiciens contemporains de Brahms: le chef d'orchestre Hans von Bülow l'a qualifié de concerto "contre" le violon, et les compositeurs français Lalo, Fauré et Debussy ne furent pas beaucoup plus tendres. Les virtuoses Henryk Wieniawski et Pablo de Sarasate l'ont également ridiculisé. Toutefois, le concerto reçut la cote d'amour du public dès sa création, et sa polpuarité (et niveau de difficulté) en font une oeuvre de choix encore aujourd'hui.

Composée le même été que le concerto, la première sonate pour violon et piano (op. 78) fut également créée par Joachim au violon, cette fois à Bonn en novembre 1879. Brahms emprunte la mélodie de son lied "Regenlied" ce qui explique qu'onj le surnomme parfois "la pluie" (Regen-Sonate). Intégré au vcommentaire anglais ci-haut vous trouverez une prestation de ce lied.

MM. Brahms et Joachim auront un froid dans leur relation, et Brahms offrira son double concerto à son viel ami en guise de branche d'olivier.

En complément de programme, j'Mai choisi de monter un mouvement de l'adaptation pour piano du concerto pour violon (conçu par le pianiste Dejan Lazic). Voici un clip explicatif (en anglais):




Bonne écoute!