Brahms / Schumann / Berlin-based orchestras
Brahms / Schumann II
Like his mentor Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms also suffered from “symphony scruples”: Role model Ludwig van Beethoven was too overpowering, Brahms heard him “marching behind him like a giant”. It was only at the age of 43 that Brahms found the courage to present his First Symphony to a public audience – he was promptly named “Beethoven’s successor”. With the success of this work the spell was broken, and a mere half year later Brahms began working on his Second Symphony, in which the composer’s points of contact with Beethoven particularly came to light. In the opening movement of Brahms’ Second, several technical details are reminiscent of the music of the long feared role model. On the other hand, the formal arrangement of the third movement as an intermezzo with a double trio bears witness, in addition to the instrumental parallels, to the influence that Schumann also had on the symphonic Brahms. Elements of Beethoven can also be recognised in Schumann’s Second Symphony, which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy premiered in Leipzig in 1846 and about which the composer wrote that “it had given him quite some difficulty”: the “rearrangement” of the middle movements follows the example set in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, while a flashing melodic thought in the final movement seems to be inspired by Beethoven’s song cycle “To the Distant Beloved” (Nr. 6 “Take them, these songs).
Sir Simon Rattle conductor