Can one get to know Brahms better through his music? In the second of four all-Brahms programmes, Sir John Eliot Gardiner leads the Concertgebouworkest in the Second Symphony and the First Piano Concerto with soloist Stephen Hough.
Brahms’s Second Symphony leaves the listener feeling euphoric.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Concertgebouworkest will be focusing on the enigmatic composer in a two-season cycle showcasing the four symphonies of Johannes Brahms. This second programme in the cycle offers an intimate glimpse into the life of the still young Brahms.
The Piano Concerto No. 1, in which the British–Australian pianist Stephen Hough makes his long-awaited Concertgebouworkest debut, reflects a dramatic period. Not long after the composer couple Robert and Clara Schumann met the young Brahms, Robert Schumann first attempted suicide. Then, during the long process Brahms undertook to compose his First Piano Concerto, Robert died. Brahms described the slow middle movement as a portrait of Clara, who would remain his friend until her death.
Many years later, Brahms composed the affable, virtually carefree Symphony No. 2 in just a few summer months. Here Brahms finally managed to free himself of Beethoven’s influence once and for all, conquered himself and established a reputation. Life is beautiful. It’s no wonder that Brahms’s Second Symphony leaves the listener feeling euphoric.