Double Concerto / Symphony No. 1, J. Brahms
Romantic musical performances at the sumptuous Teatro Filarmonico in Verona are rarely more exciting than those that feature a programme made up exclusively of works by the German composer, Johannes Brahms. This is what lies in store for audience goers at the Veronese opera house, however, with a concert series that opens with Brahms' Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102, before concluding with a rendition of his Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68. Both works are among the most enchanting of all the maestro's music and sure to make for an entertaining and musically enthralling performance.
Brahms' Double Concerto dates from late in his career and was among his final orchestrations. He arranged it for violin and cello soloists as well as an orchestra. The piece was written in the summer of 1887 and premiered in October of that year. Arranged in three movements, the concerto opens with a fast section of music in A minor before slowing down for the more thoughtful second movement in D major. The finale begins in A minor and progresses to a suitably enchanting climax in A major. Brahms is said to have written the piece in part to help his friendship with the violinist, Joseph Joachim, recover, a relationship that had suffered following Joachim's divorce.
The First Symphony was written by Brahms over an extended period. The composer first started making sketches for it in 1855 but did not start working on it in earnest until 1856. Over the course of the next 21 years, Brahms continued to work on the symphony, only feeling satisfied that it could be performed in 1876. It was subsequently first performed in Karlsruhe on 4 November of that year. The four-movement first symphony opens with a sonata in C minor that shifts to C major towards the end. This is echoed in the final movement which does the same thing, on this occasion the C minor section takes the form of a slow adagio which, by the time it shifts into a major key, introduces horns and a chorale in the brass section. Further shifts between C major and minor occur in the fourth movement's memorable coda.
Music fans and lovers of Romantic-era classical works, in particular, are likely to find this series of concerts to their liking, not least because of the Veronese auditorium's impressive acoustics.