BRAHMS PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1 / HAYDN VARIATIONS
A giant among today's pianists and a champion of the Brahms oeuvre, Bronfman unleashed torrential energy that brought down the house.
Symphony or concerto? You can have both in the majestic D-minor Piano Concerto, a work rich in symphonic writing yet brimming over with virtuoso concerto challenges. The piano was, after all, Brahms' turf. Despite the shadow cast by Robert Schumann's inordinate praise of the 20-year-old Brahms in a groundbreaking article of 1853, Brahms took up the challenge and began working on the concerto the following year; however, he only completed it in 1859.
The thunderous chords and nervous trills of the opening give way to an alteration of lyrical episodes and renewed shows of force. The tender second movement is, in Brahms' words, a "lovely portrait of you [Clara Schumann]" the woman he adored and who was to become his most important confidante for many, many years. The closing Rondo builds its brilliant, bravura episodes around a snappy theme which brings the work to an exuberant close.
Brahms composed the Haydn Variations in 1873, at a time when he was focusing on songs and other highly melodic works. The incredible inventiveness of the eight variations is immediately audible.
Fully aware of the importance of this Brahms cycle, Cleveland's daily "The Plain Dealer" opined that with the completion of this cycle, the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst were "staking their claims to Brahms greatness." Shot in Cleveland's grand Severance Hall, one of the most beautiful halls in the world, this concert also features Yefim Bronfman at the piano. A giant among today's pianists and a champion of the Brahms oeuvre, he unleashed "torrential energy" that brought down the house.