About this Recording
8.557237 - BRAHMS: Symphony No. 3 / Serenade No. 2 (Tintner Edition 5)


Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 Performance recorded 21 March 1990

Serenade No. 2 in A major, Op. 16 Performance recorded 29 January 1992

According to Maestro Tintner, “Brahms was frightened of the symphony. His first effort to write one became the first piano concerto in D minor. Then he worked for years and years on Symphony No.1. But once the spell was broken it was a different story. No.2, the lovely one, was created in a few weeks instead of 21 years. He said he was frightened because the shadow of Beethoven was always behind him, and when you listen to No.1 you can see what he meant. The Second Symphony was an immediate success and Clara Schumann, the widow of the composer and friend of Brahms, wrote to him: ‘At last you wrote something that people will like’.”

Hans Richter, who conducted the first performance of the Third Symphony in Vienna in December, 1883, referred to the work as the composer’s Eroica, a great compliment with its comparison to the symphonies of Beethoven. The enemies of Brahms were predictably hostile. Hugo Wolf, a fervent Wagnerian, was to claim that there was more intelligence and emotion in a single cymbal stroke by Liszt than in all the three symphonies of Brahms that had then appeared. To Wagner and his wife Cosima, Liszt’s illegitimate daughter, Brahms was a rude, boorish man who composed mediocre music. Wagner himself did not live to hear the Third Symphony, but nothing would have altered his resentment at comparisons between Brahms and the inimitable Beethoven, whose rightful successor he considered himself to be.

The Third Symphony opens with a brief figure played by the wind and this serves as a bass to the intense emotion of the succeeding theme proposed immediately by the violins. A second subject, in A major, is introduced by the clarinet, accompanied by a string drone bass, offering a pastoral contrast to the grandeur of the first theme. The opening motif reappears with particular poignancy played by the French horn in the central development, which closes with a richness of counterpoint typical of the composer. The C major slow movement allows clarinets and bassoons to predominate in the statement of the principal theme, the same instruments introducing a second theme, followed by oboe and French horn. A moving cello theme in C minor starts the third movement, a world away from the traditional lighthearted scherzo. There is a Trio section, its sombre implications replaced by the return of the principal theme of the movement played by the French horn. The last movement, in which much of the argument of the symphony is concentrated, opens ominously, the mysterious initial activity of bassoons and strings, sotto voce, leading to a great storm of sound in which the composer shows all his power. The finale is massive in conception, ending not with the defiance of a Beethoven but with a gentle recollection of the first movement.

The Second Serenade in A major, Opus 16, was completed in 1859 during the period that Brahms spent in the pastoral beauty of Detmold, Germany. It was given its first public performance in Hamburg in February 1860, the same year as its publication. It is scored for wind instruments and lower strings, without violins, though Brahms also made a four-hand piano arrangement of the work, a task that gave him considerable delight. He revised the orchestral score of the Serenade in 1875. The first of the five movements entrusts its first subject to clarinets and bassoons in thirds, the former announcing the second subject, accompanied by plucked strings. A lively G major Scherzo is followed by an A minor Adagio in which Clara Schumann detected a liturgical solemnity, finding in the following Quasi Menuetto movement something of the quality of Haydn. A colourful Rondo brings the Serenade to an end.

Georg Tintner
Georg Tintner was born in Vienna in 1917. He began studying piano at the age of six and to compose soon after. From nine to thirteen he was a member of the Vienna Boys Choir, where he also conducted the choir in performances of his own compositions. At thirteen he entered the Vienna State Academy as a composition prodigy, studying composition with Josef Marx and conducting with Felix Weingartner. At eighteen he was the conductor of a training choir of the Vienna Boys Choir, and trained the choir for a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Bruno Walter in 1936. His compositions were being performed in concert and broadcast by Austrian Radio, and at nineteen he became assistant conductor at the Vienna Volksoper.

In 1938 he fled the Nazis, spending a year in England before emigrating to New Zealand. For several years he ran a poultry farm – as a result of which he became a total vegetarian – before becoming Music Director of the Auckland String Players and Auckland Choral Society in 1947. He was also an avowed socialist and pacifist, and as such he rode a bicycle as “a symbol of the ultimate in harmlessness”.

In 1954 he went to Australia as Resident Conductor of the National Opera and then the Elizabethan Opera. In the following years he toured Australia widely and pioneered television opera with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1964 he was Music Director of the New Zealand Opera, and in 1966-67 was Music Director of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra. Although offered an extended contract, Tintner left for political reasons. He went to London and Sadler’s Wells (English National Opera) for three years, with guest appearances with the London Mozart Players, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia and the London Symphony Orchestra for the BBC.

He returned to Australia in 1970 as Music Director of the West Australian Opera Company. In 1971 he was invited as Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, a visit so successful that it was repeated seven times. Tintner had a special rapport with young musicians, conducting many concerts with the national youth orchestras of several countries. A 1974 series of lectures have been broadcast many times in English-speaking countries, and he was renowned for his concert introductions, some of which may be heard in this edition.

Tintner’s repertoire included 56 operas, about two-thirds of which he conducted from memory. In

1974 he became Senior Resident Conductor of the Australian Opera for two years. While there he conducted now-legendary performances of Fidelio, expressive of his lifelong commitment to compassionate humanism. From 1976 Tintner was Music Director of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra until moving to Canada at the end of 1987 as Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia. He appeared with all Australian, New Zealand orchestras and opera companies, and later with all major Canadian orchestras including the Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. In the United States he toured with the Canadian Brass and appeared with the Michigan Opera Theatre.

He made many commercial recordings, including some for the CBC which are being reissued in the present Memorial Edition. His Naxos series of all eleven Bruckner symphonies brought him worldwide acclaim in his final two years.

Georg Tintner has been honoured in four countries. He was awarded several honorary doctorates, and honours including the Officer’s Cross of the Austrian Order Of Merit. He was a Member of the Order of Canada

He died in Halifax in October 1999.

Tanya Tintner

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