The Full Works Concert - Thursday 13 March 2014

Tonight's Concert features three great classical works from Handel, Brahms and the Polish pianist Scharwenka.

Tonight's Concert opens with Brahms' Symphony No.1 in C minor. It took the composer nearly 15 years to write it, with frequent revisions made to the score over that period. Even at its premiere, he remained sceptical about whether anyone would like it. But he had nothing to fear, though; Hans von Bülow (himself a composer, conductor and pianist, just like Brahms) famously described this work as ‘Beethoven’s Tenth’. No greater compliment could have possibly been paid. At the age of 43, Brahms had finally produced a symphony that both he and his public were happy with. Thankfully, they didn’t have to wait nearly as long for the arrival of another: he wrote the second the following year.

The Concerti Grossi are 12 works by Handel (pictured) for a trio of two violins and violoncello and a four-part string orchestra with harpsichord continuo. Taking as a model the older concerto style of Arcangelo Corelli, rather than the later three-movement concerto of Vivaldi favoured by Bach, Handel's Concerti Grosso were written to be played during performances of his oratorios and odes. Tonight we'll hear the innovative sixth concerto in G minor. Its first movement is one of the darkest that Handel wrote, with a tragic pathos that easily equals that of the finest dramatic arias in his operas.

The Polish pianist and composer Franz Xaver Scharwenka was raised in the spirit of European Romanticism, championing the music of Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Liszt, and gaining enormous popularity for his own compositions, which Liszt greatly admired. Scharwenka’s fourth and final Piano Concerto (which the composer performed under the direction of Mahler and Stokowski) is a work of genius which stands at the apex of his achievement.


Johannes Brahms: Symphony No.1 in C minor, Opus 68
Colin Davis conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

George Frideric Handel: Concerto Grosso in G minor Opus 6 No.6
Neville Marriner conducts the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields 

Xaver Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No.4 in F minor Opus 82
Piano: Stephen Hough
Lawrence Foster conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra