13 Apr 2019

BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor Op 15

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 13 April 2019

Pianist Stephen Hough describes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No 1 as one of the “greatest pillars of the Romantic repertoire”.

Pianist, Joyce Yang

Pianist, Joyce Yang Photo: Supplied/NZSO

Joyce Yang (piano), New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart

  • Maestoso
  • Adagio
  • Rondo: Allegro non troppo

Written in 1858 when Brahms was just 24, his perfectionist spirit led him to revise this piece incessantly. He showed his drafts to his friends – violin superstar Joseph Joachim and lauded pianist and composer Clara Schumann, seeking their advice on every detail. Brahms clearly wanted to ensure the concerto’s immediate success.

Sadly, it was not to be. The concerto’s first performance in Hannover in 1859 was received with hisses and boos, and its subsequent performance in Leipzig was met with scorn. Brahms shelved the piece.

The concerto’s poor initial reception was probably because audiences expected a conventional Romantic concerto: a showcase for the performer to show off his or her skills, while the orchestra merely provided background accompaniment. Instead, Brahms’ first piano concerto presents soloist and orchestra as equal partners, with both presenting and developing the musical material.

Recorded 13 April 2019, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.

Producer: David McCaw

Engineer: Graham Kennedy