The Full Works Concert - Monday 10 February 2014

Brahms' double concerto for cello and violin is the centrepiece of tonight's concert of masterpieces.

Johannes Brahms

Tonight's Concert opens with Mozart's Symphony No.35 in D major, popularly known as the Haffner symphony. It was commissioned by the Haffners, a prominent Salzburg family and did not start its life as a symphony, but rather as a serenade to be used as background music for the ennoblement of Sigmund Haffner. The request to write music actually came via Mozart's father when Mozart was up to his eyes in other work; he had to compose and send the piece through section by section via his father. Later in the year, he decided to present the music at a concert. After asking his father to send the score back again, Mozart was amazed at its quality, given the fact that it was composed in such a short time. He made a number of alterations to the score in order to convert the new Haffner serenade into the Haffner symphony. It's performed tonight by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras.

The Double Concerto in A minor by Johannes Brahms (pictured) was the composer's final orchestral work, written for the cellist Robert Hausmann and Brahms' old but estranged friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. The concerto was, in part, an attempt to make up with Joachim after Joachim's divorce, a dispute in which Brahms sided with Mrs. Joachim. Clara Schumann was not a fan of this concerto, considering it 'not brilliant for the instruments', but it has become more popular in recent times.

George Frideric Handel's Concerto Grosso in A major Opus 6 No.11 follows. This was probably the last of his Concerti Grossi Op. 6 to be completed. Taking the concertos of Arcangelo Corelli as models, rather than the later three-movement concerto of Vivaldi favoured by Bach, they were written to be played during performances of Handel's oratorios and odes. Handel chose to make this concerto an adaptation of his recently composed but still unpublished organ concerto HWV 296 in A major: in either form it has been ranked as one of the very finest of Handel's concertos, "a monument of sanity and undemonstrative sense".

Both of the piano concertos were early works with which Chopin hoped to launch his own international career as a pianist. Few composers have concentrated on a single instrument as much as Chopin did and in both the concertos, the whole orchestra is clearly playing second fiddle (so to speak) to the solo piano. The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, despite its official number, is actually the first of the two piano concertos. A huge artistic and commercial success when he premiered it, Chopin immediately began another concerto , which went on to be published before the F minor Concerto - hence the switch in numbering. Instead of drawing on the innovative concertos of Mozart or Beethoven, Chopin's piano concertos are uniquely poetic and lyrical, perhaps owing more to the bel-canto opera style of Bellini than other romantic concertos.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No.35 in D major K.385
Charles Mackerras conducts Scottish Chamber Orchestra 

Johannes Brahms: Double Concerto in A minor Opus 102
Violin: Vadim Repin
Viola: Truls Mork
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

George Frideric Handel: Concerto Grosso in A major Opus 6 No.11
Simon Standage conducts Collegium Musicum 90

Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor Opus 21
Piano: Eldar Nebolsin 
Antoni Wit conducts Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

The Full Works Concert