How to Build a Classical CD Collection

31. Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Schumann: Piano Concerto

Brahms was himself a pianist. As a boy he helped his family by playing in bars near the docks of his native Hamburg, but his first professional concert work was in an 1853 concert tour with the young Hungarian violinist Reményi. Although he was already writing a great deal of music, some of which he played to Schumann in the same year, at their first meeting, his major works were only composed some years later, delayed, perhaps, by the great and public expectations that Schumann had expressed. His monumental second piano concerto was only completed in 1881, after intermittent work of some four years. Schumann, who died in an asylum in 1856 after a period of insanity of some two years, wrote his only piano concerto for his young wife Clara, one of the most distinguished performers of her time and a continuing support to Brahms throughout her life. The concerto was completed in 1845, in the fifth year of the Schumanns' marriage, contracted in 1840 only after litigation with her father, her own and Schumann's former piano teacher.

Recommended recording
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 with Jeno Jandó and the Belgian Radio and Television Orchestra under Alexander Rahbari. Schumann: Piano Concerto with Jeno Jandó and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra under Andrés Ligeti. Naxos 8.553268

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