Brahms / Schumann / Berlin-based orchestras
Brahms / Schumann III
“The art of composing without ideas has decidedly found in Brahms its worthiest representative”, Hugo Wolf once mocked, nonetheless adding in a conciliatory manner that: “Just like the dear Lord, Mr. Brahms has also mastered the feat of making something out of nothing.” In doing so, Wolf paved the way for the prejudice that Johannes Brahms lacked melodic ingenuity and motivic pithiness. How erroneous! “What do I care about my ‘invention’?” countered Brahms, too, “it’s like a seed lying in the earth: either it germinates or it doesn’t, in which case it is worthless.” The two wind chords ahead of the opening movement form a prime example of Brahms’ art “to make something out of nothing”: their tonal tension and melodic formation mark important developmental points in the course of the movement and initiate a thematic reminiscence of the first movement in the finale. And the main subject of the third movement, which not least achieved fame in the filming of Françoise Sagan’s novel “Aimez-vous Brahms?” proves Hugo Wolf’s point: only “the dear Lord” could have the orchestra singing more beautifully! Robert Schumann commented that it doesn’t matter much “how compositions occur”, since “the composers usually don’t know themselves!” Nonetheless, the exuberant mood of his Third Symphony can possibly be explained by the fact that this work was completed during one of Schumann’s happiest years.
Sir Simon Rattle conductor