Ervin Lukács season ticket 1
The two composers with the letter ‘B’ featured in this concert had a shared fate.They both grew up in complicated family environments before becoming outstanding pianists, they mainly lived and worked in Vienna, had many Hungarian friends, and harboured love and affection for unattainable women: Beethoven for married ladies and those of elevated social status, Brahms for the widow of his benefactor, Robert Schumann. Brahms’s first orchestral work was his Piano Concerto in D minor. He presented the piece in 1859 and gave the following recommendation regarding its second movement: “Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini.” (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord). Some people think Brahms intended this as a tribute to his great mentor, Schumann, while others believe he merely sought to express the mood of the slow-tempo movement. According to Schumann, the Beethoven symphony which closes out the evening resembles a slender Greek girl sandwiched between two northern giants (the Eroica and Fate Symphonies). Pianist Simon Trpceski (1979) first performed in Hungary in 2011 as a National Artist of Macedonia.
Johannes Brahms composed his first piano concerto at a very young age, between 20 and 26. The almost one-hour work is both a physical and an intellectual challenge to any pianist; Brahms’s robust piano style, the intensity of his music calls for special stamina. Analysing the Piano Concerto in D minor, one critic compared it to the passionate minor-key compositions of the literary and musical movement from 80 years earlier, terming it a ‘Sturm und Drang’ work. The impressive opening movement stands out with its symphonic-scale orchestral exposition and great character contrasts; the jagged rhythm of the main theme on the extended pedal note is reminiscent of the beginning of Beethoven’s Ninth. Brahms calledthe contrastive Adagio following the stormy opening movement Clara Schumann’s ‘gentle portrait’. (Brahms had met the Schumanns in September 1853 and six months later, following Schumann’s nervous breakdown, suicide attempt and moving to the sanatorium at Endenich, he returned to the family in Düsseldorf to help Clara. He remained there until the death of his older colleague in 1756. To him Clara represented the ideal woman as a wife, mother and musician.) The sonata-rondo finale of the piano concertois thought to have been directly modelled on the closing movement of Beethoven’s Concerto in C minor.However, in spite of the many formal similarities, this music nevertheless speaks in Brahms’s voice and features numerous original ideas,such as the fugato in the middle episode as well as the effective,large-scale and coda with two changes of tempo,following the grand cadence.
Peers expected Beethoven’s works to portray ideas and heroes, to set to music the struggle of light and darkness, the clashes and passions of his protagonists. Composed in 1806, the Fourth (B-flat major, op. 60) conforms least to our image of Beethoven. While it has the makings of an instant success – wittiness, proportion, respect for the traditions of the genre – the audiences expected Beethoven to be more of a rebel and slap the predecessors in the face.
The gloomy introduction of the first movement foreshadows tragedy; however, the main theme explodes in with joyful vigour and the movement proceeds to introduce light, pastoral music.
The second movement is reminiscent of a slow stylised march in which the typical dotted rhythms of the tympani in the background assume a crucial role. They are counterpointed by the broad, melodious sounds in the violins, clarinets and oboes.
The third movement is a classical scherzo brimming with rhythmic play. The traditional three-part trio form is expanded to five parts through repetition of the trio and the main part.
The fourth movement has most in common with the world of Haydn, still alive at the time. The young Beethoven was, perhaps, out to show off his gift in wild and cheerful music-making, like the great maestro in his symphony finales. (László Gombos)