Piano Concerto No. 1 / Symphony No. 4, J. Brahms
Two wonderful pieces of music composed by Johannes Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 and Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98, feature in a series of concerts at Verona's delightful auditorium, Teatro Filarmonico. The 18th-century opera house is widely used for concerts of the classical and romantic eras, including this programme made up of works exclusively by the great German maestro. Members of the audience will experience an emotional journey through Brahms' music in a remarkable setting in the heart of the so-called City of Love, as Verona is so often nicknamed.
The concerts begin with a rendition of the First Piano Concerto Brahms wrote when he was a young man. The first performance took place in January 1859 with the composer at the piano, an instrument for which he possessed a prodigious talent. The first movement takes a sonata form in D minor and is played in a relatively stately manner. The second movement shifts to D major and is noteworthy for the composer's extensive use of bassoons in the orchestration. The concerto is completed by a rondo, a finale that begins in D minor before subtly altering to D major. A magnificent coda signals the end of the concerto which draws all of the musical ideas Brahms put into his work in a neat flourish.
Symphony No. 4 is from later in Brahms' career. He conducted it himself at the symphony's premiere which took place in October 1885 in the German town of Meiningen. The first movement begins in E minor but rarely sticks to this key for long. The same can be said of the second movement. Changing from E major to B major frequently, it also makes use of modal scales. Because many of the longer melodic phrases in the symphony ebb and flow with great urgency, the music betrays a certain lyrical beauty, suggesting – perhaps – that Brahms really had something to say. If the fourth movement's references to Johann Sebastian Bach, specifically his Cantata No. 150, are anything to go by, then it is possible Brahms' had something to say about music itself. After all, the great composer was known to be a fervent student of musical history, something that comes across in this intricate symphonic work.
Due to the exceptional acoustic qualities of the venue and the rare qualities of both pieces of music in the programme, attendees are likely to be in for a musical extravaganza.