Tim Lovelace and Peter McGuire
The virtuoso composer/pianist Robert Schumann wrote an influential article hailing Brahms as the savior of music, suggesting Brahms may be Beethoven's heir in the symphonic realm. This article both helped make Brahms's career and almost paralyzed him from writing a symphony for the next twenty years for fear of not measuring up to Schumann's high praise and ideals.
"Brahms is best known for his great symphonic work," says Peter McGuire. "Robert Schumann also wrote symphonies, but he was really at his best when he was writing on a more intimate scale. This concert shares some examples of Brahms approaching the intimacy of the Schumanns' music."
The pieces on this recital bear witness to the relationships between Brahms and the Schumanns. "Robert's Abendlied was originally a piece for piano four-hands that he wrote to play with his daughter, Marie. The great violinist Joachim arranged it for piano and violin and introduced Brahms to the Schumanns in what would become one of the closest friendships in music history. Clara was one of the most respected pianists of her day. After Robert's death, she continued to concertize and champion the music of both Brahms and her late husband. Brahms remained Clara's close friend. His First Violin Sonata quotes the melody of his song Regenlied, which he wrote in memory of the death of one of the Schumanns' children. In a way, most of this concert is a form of Victorian restrained, understated intimacy, where someone like Brahms could say, 'I hope this work might bring you comfort.' and let his music speak for him."