The Music Column

There Will Be Brahms

The subject of the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major (Op. 77) is fitting because we are talking about a work that is respected, which is one thing, but also loved, which is more.  I had some special times with the Brahms Violin Concerto, even some special bad times, but I always come back to it.  A favorite work, perhaps sometimes a puzzling one, it is fascinating to me.  I have never tired of it, even after so many auditions in the last 57 years, and today I wonder why that is so.

Of course, I do understand that some familiarity with an item of the standard repertory is nothing out of the ordinary, by definition, but I never felt that the piece was anything but extraordinary.  As I expanded my access to it, I only liked it better and better.  It is a piece full of character, and perhaps not everything that can be legitimately said about it has yet been iterated.  That’s on one side.

On the other is not only the Great Episode of Unpleasantness but something else that hardly has a name.  The Brahms Violin Concerto, I believe, is written in such a way that it does not encourage a highly individual approach by the soloist.  Many soloists seem contented with surviving the first movement, and I don’t blame them.  The entrance of the soloist is fraught with peril and stress, and there are other challenges.  The second and third movements resist the individual treatment...

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