Brahms, Joachim: Violin Concertos

Brahms, Joachim: Violin Concertos

by Rachel Barton Pine
     
 

Joseph Joachim's musical relationship with Brahms is well known -- so well known, in fact, that one wonders why his music is so rarely played. Listening to the Hungarian-born violinist-composer's Violin Concerto No. 2 "In the Hungarian Style" (completed in 1860 and dedicated to Brahms), one discovers what might be considered a missing link between Brahms's own Violin… See more details below

Overview

Joseph Joachim's musical relationship with Brahms is well known -- so well known, in fact, that one wonders why his music is so rarely played. Listening to the Hungarian-born violinist-composer's Violin Concerto No. 2 "In the Hungarian Style" (completed in 1860 and dedicated to Brahms), one discovers what might be considered a missing link between Brahms's own Violin Concerto (1878) and Beethoven's (1806). The first movement of the Joachim is expansive -- almost monumental -- in the manner of the first movement of Beethoven's concerto, and the character of the music has a similar thoughtful lyricism. True, Joachim's melodies are not nearly as sweet nor as memorable, but there are many beautiful passages throughout, and one does not have to listen long to hear how Brahms was influenced by his elder friend's work. Violinist Rachel Barton calls the Joachim a "masterpiece," and whether or not you agree, it's clear that she plays it with passionate conviction and remarkable technical assurance. Her Brahms Concerto is equally fine, with relaxed tempos that provide an aristocratic sense of spaciousness. The Chicago Symphony sounds glorious, of course, and Cedille's recording is state-of-the-art. It must be pointed out, too, that Barton wrote the informative booklet note, and in the Brahms, she includes her own imaginative cadenzas in addition to the traditional ones by Joachim. Not to be missed.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
The premise of this recording is to couple two complementary late-nineteenth century violin concertos: the "Concerto in D minor" of Joseph Joachim and the "Concerto in D major" of Johannes Brahms. Although Brahms' "Concerto in D major" was unappreciated in its day, the work has become one of the most popular violin concertos of the nineteenth century, with hundreds of recordings to its credit. On the other hand, Joachim's "Concerto in D minor" was wildly popular in its day, but has since dropped from the repertoire, and there are only three recordings currently available of his concerto. Rachel Barton's performance of both works is expressive and virtuosic. She makes the melodies ring and the cadenzas burn, makes the lines sing, and the emotions yearn. And she makes as convincing a case for the Joachim concerto as she does for the Brahms concerto. But as fine as her performances are, it's hard to recommend this recording as a first choice for either work. In the case of the Brahms concerto, Barton is up against nearly every great violinist, and while she is a superb player in every way, she cannot match Kreisler, Heifetz, Menuhin, Grumiaux, or Oistrakh. And while her performance is far more polished and passionate than the anonymous violinist on Vox's recording of the Joachim concerto, Barton is neither as polished nor as passionate as Elmar Oliveira in his recording on IMP Masters. And while the Chicago Symphony plays well under conductor Carlos Kalmar, it cannot compete with the Chicago Symphony under Reiner in Heifetz's recording of the Brahms concerto or the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Fürtwangler in Menuhin's recording, nor can it compete with the London Philharmonic under Botstein in Oliveira's recording. Cedille's sound is warm and open.
Gramophone - Edward Greenfield
Rachel Barton is a magnetically imaginative artist, spontaneously expressive in her rubato, who makes every phrase sound fresh. Technically, too, she shows complete mastery.
BBC Music Magazine - Calum MacDonald
No one interested in the development of the violin concerto should be without [Joachim's] near-masterpiece, and this is now the version to have.... This is a laudable release.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/27/2003
Label:
Cedille
UPC:
0735131906821
catalogNumber:
68
Rank:
106784

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Concerto No. 2 in D minor for violin & orchestra, Op. 11  - Joseph Joachim  - Carlos Kalmar  -  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  - Rachel Barton Pine
  2. Concerto in D major for violin & orchestra, Op. 77  - Johannes Brahms  - Carlos Kalmar  -  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  - Rachel Barton Pine

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