Fridays in July
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833. Although he was one of Germany's most prolific composers of the 19th century, he spent most of his professional life as part of the flourishing music scene in the Austrian capital Vienna. In July, Stingray Classica pays tribute to the composer and his oeuvre with a series of Brahms symphony premieres. On Friday, July 3, Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Cleveland Orchestra in a performance featuring works from Johannes Brahms's impressive body of work. On the following four Fridays, Stingray Classica brings you a series of concert premieres, in which Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra interpret Brahms's first four symphonies.
Brahms - Violin Concerto & Academic Ouverture
Friday, 3 July | 21:00
One of today’s most distinguished conductors, Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in a performance featuring works from the oeuvre of Johannes Brahms. The concert begins with the Academic Festival Overture, written in honor of the University of Breslau, which awarded the composer an honorary doctorate in philosophy. This is followed by Brahms only Violin Concerto (in D major), described by violinist Joseph Joachim, whom it was originally written for, as one of the four great German violin concerti. This performance features violin soloist Julia Fischer. It was recorded at Severance Hall in Cleveland, USA, in 2014.
Brahms - Symphony No. 1
Friday, 10 July | 21:00
Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in this performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 1. Few symphonic works have taken longer to come into fruition than Brahms' first. The composer had basic ideas about this work as early as 1855 when he was just 22 years old. It saw numerous revisions before its completion, as Brahms was encouraged by his peers, most notably Clara Schumann and musicologist Philipp Spitta, to press forward despite the fear of living in Beethoven's shadow. Also included in this performance is the U.K. premiere of Jörg Widmann's Flûte en suite featuring soloist Joshua Smith. This performance was recorded as part of the 2014 BBC proms season at The Royal Albert Hall in London, U.K.
Brahms - Symphony No. 2
Friday, 17 July | 21:00
Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in this performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 2. Considering that Johannes Brahms had toiled for more than 15 years on his First Symphony, it is hardly surprising that his Second Symphony should be a lighter, brighter work that makes masterful use of the achievements from the First. Expansive and unhurried, it charms the ear with its lyricism and excites it with its passionate tutti outbursts. It has been a favorite among Brahms' orchestral works since its premiere in late 1876. Welser-Möst leads his "devoted and exemplarily precise musicians" (Die Presse) in a rendition that polishes every detail to make the work glow from within. Thanks to his many years at the head of the Cleveland Orchestra, Welser-Möst can mold the most intricate sonorities with the subtlest of means. This performance was recorded at the Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, in 2014.
Brahms - Symphony No. 3
Friday, 24 July | 21:00
Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in this performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 3. A late-romantic treasure, this work demonstrates the evolution of the composer's modest symphonic output, balancing the brightness of his Second Symphony with the monumentality of his Fourth Symphony. Strangely enough, even though the Third reaches several glorious outpourings of massed winds and strings, the work ends in pianissimo, leaving the listener taken aback, reflective rather than jubilant. This performance was recorded at the Vienna Musikverein, Austria, in 2014.
Brahms - Symphony No. 4
Friday, 31 July | 21:00
Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in this performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 4. This is the final of the composer's short selection of symphonic works. Described by music critic Malcolm Macdonald as one of the “supreme creative acts of the Romantic era,” Brahms' Fourth Symphony is endowed with a strong undercurrent of subdued melancholy. It seems to pine for an irretrievable past. The past lives on majestically in this work, particularly in the sighing theme of the first movement reminiscent of Baroque practice, and, above all, in the use of the Baroque form of the chaconne in the last movement, around which Brahms spins over 30 variations on a solemn, stately theme. This performance was recorded at Severance Hall in Cleveland, USA, in 2014.