|About this Recording
8.553026 - BRAHMS / JOACHIM: Hungarian Dances
Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Andantino in A minor
Romance in B flat major
The violinist Joseph Joachim first met Brahms in 1853, when the latter embarked on a concert tour with the Hungarian violinist Edo Reményi. Joachim himself was born at Kitsee near Pressburg, the modern Bratislava, in 1831 and moved with his family to Pest in 1833. There he was able as a child to develop his remarkable gifts as a violinist under the tutelage of the Polish virtuoso Stanislaw Serwaczynski, who later taught Henryk Wieniawski. He gave his first public recital in Pest at the age of seven and was sent in the same year to Vienna, where he studied first with Hauser, then with Georg Hellmesberger, Hauser's teacher, and finally with Joseph Böhm, Hellmesberger's own teacher. In 1843 he began an association in Leipzig with Mendelssohn, from whom he learned a great deal. Here he was able to further his wider education, notably in composition lessons with Moritz Hauptmann, who occupied the position once held by Bach as cantor at the Thomasschule, and with Hauptmann's former pupil, the violinist Ferdinand David. Joachim appeared as a soloist in a Leipzig Gewandhaus concert in 1843, playing an Adagio and Rondo by Bériot, and later in the same year he played Ernst's Othello-Phantasie with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, directed by Mendelssohn.
He now embarked on an international career as a soloist. In 1850 Joachim briefly served as orchestral leader in Weimar under Liszt, now established there as Director of Music Extraordinary. Here he was able to arrange evening chamber music recitals, but found himself gradually in artistic disagreement with Liszt, who was now embarking on his series of symphonic poems, seeing the future of music in terms that were alien to Joachim and, subsequently, to Brahms. Joachim moved now to Hanover as violinist to the King and developed friendship with the Schurnanns, a relationship that was a natural extension of his earlier relationship with Mendelssohn, who had died in 1847. The meeting with Brahms led to a visit by the latter to Weimar, where Brahms's companion, the émigré violinist Reményi, expected encouragement from a fellow-countryman. Here, however, Brahms' partnership with Reményi foundered, and rather than return to Hamburg empty-handed, he now continued his friendship with Joachim and through him met the Schumanns in Düsseldorf.
Joachim's relationship with Brahms was important. The latter was able to call on Joachim for advice in orchestration and in writing for strings, and was undoubtedly influenced by the quartet that Joachim established in Hanover and by the very distinguished Joachim Quartet, established first in 1869. Brahms and Joachim were united in their opposition to the Neo-German school of Liszt and Wagner and their friendship was only broken when Brahms, with habitual indiscretion, wrote a letter of support to Joachim's wife, the singer Amalie Weiss, when divorce was threatened. The letter was produced in court as evidence of Joachim's unreasonable behaviour, and the divorce was not granted. A measure of amity was restored when Brahms wrote for Joachim his Double Concerto, for violin and cello.
As a composer Joachim wrote relatively little. He left, however, a series of useful cadenzas to major classical concertos, violin studies and editions and a number of works for violin and orchestra and violin or viola and piano. His arrangement of Brahms's popular Hungarian Dances returns to suitably idiomatic musical form the 21 dances that Brahms had written between 1852 and 1869 for piano duet. These were published in that form in 1869 and in 1880, with an arrangement of the first two books for one player appearing in 1872. The dances capture something of the spirit of supposed Hungarian gypsy music. Included in the present recording are two pieces by Joachim for violin and piano, an Andantino and a Romance, the first a more substantial work, arranged by Joachim from his own composition for violin and orchestra.
Close the window