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Brahms & St. Saens

Johannes Brahms

Violin Concerto in D, op. 77

Brahms, like his predecessor Beethoven, wrote only one violin concerto, also

in the key of D major. Described once by the distinguished Viennese

musician Joseph Hellmesberger, as ³Beethovenıs heir², Brahms himself

declared that ³To follow in Beethovenıs footsteps transcends oneıs

strength.² Although it is indeed safe to say that Brahmsı concerto would not

have existed without Beethovenıs example, the story of its influences is far

more intricate.

The name of Eduard Reményi invariably surfaces during a discussion of

Brahmsı violin concerto. A part-German, part-Hungarian violinist who was

once soloist to Queen Victoria, Reményi rescued a young Brahms from

piano-playing in taverns by engaging him as his accompanist on a tour

throughout Germany in 1853. Although their partnership was brief, the

collaboration proved

significant: Brahms was introduced to the Hungarian and gypsy folk music

that Reményi played so well, eventually leading to a whole category of

Brahmsı music where the Hungarian idiom dominated. It was also through

Reményi that Brahms met those who would prove to be of paramount importance

in his life and work, Robert and Clara Schumann, and the great violinist

Joseph Joachim.

Twenty-five years later, in 1878, an established, forty-five year old Brahms

completed his violin

concerto. Brahms composed the piece during a prolific and idyllic summer at

the mountain resort of Portschach on the Worthersee, the largest of the

South Austrian lakes near the Italian border. The concerto is dedicated to

Joachim, who served as a constant consultant during its writing and

contributed the cadenza. He premiered the piece in a concert conducted by

Brahms at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig on New Yearıs Day, 1879.

The concertoıs reception was typically Brahmsian: damned by some, heralded

by others. Andreas Moser, Joachimıs biographer observed ³how easily

accessible Brahms was to Joachimıs counsels about composition, and what a

deaf ear he turned to the otherıs hints on technique.² The unique technical

difficulties daunted the most accomplished violinists of the day. Even

Joachim, the undisputed king

of this group, at first deemed the concerto ³unplayable², but later stated

that ³especially the first movement, pleases me more and more.² It took many

years for the concerto to find its current

place as one of the great masterpieces of violin literature.

Originally planned in four movements, the concerto presents an interesting

relationship between soloist and orchestra. Described as ³a song for the

violin on a symphonic scale², Brahms abandoned the original Scherzo and

revised the Adagio movement. The work opens with an orchestral

introduction of almost one hundred measures where, the listener later

realizes, most of the thematic ideas are introduced. The violinıs

impassioned, almost impatient entrance is a four-octave statement which

leads to the exposition of the principal theme. Lawrence Gilman wrote that

³the caressing and delicate weaving of the solo instrument around the

melodic outlines of the song themes in the orchestra is unforgettable.²

Max Bruch once said that the first theme of the Adagio is based on a

forgotten Bohemian folk song. The endearing, simple melody is stated by the

oboe with a rich woodwind accompaniment, and the solo violin never plays

more than the first three notes of this tune, but rather accompanies it with

lucid and ornamental counterpoint.

The spirited third movement Allegro is a devilishly difficult rondo which

pulsates with Hungarian spirit and abandon. The playful chief theme, stated

in thirds, is announced at once by the solo

violin. What follows is a delightful musical game between the violin and

orchestra which is

eventually concluded by the ensemble. The work clearly embodies the many

facets of Brahms

the composer: the lyrical, emotional, and playful sides balanced by

structured, yet

inventive development.


Camille Saint-Saëns

Violin Concerto no. 3 in B minor, op. 61

If ever the title ³musical Everyman² should be bestowed, it belongs to

Camille Saint-Saëns. One of the most versatile and gifted musicians,

Saint-Saëns was a distinguished pianist, organist, conductor, editor,

scholar and teacher. He possessed perfect pitch, and made it his mission to

become innately acquainted with the nuances of the many instruments of the

orchestra. Beyond the realm of music, Saint-Saëns had a remarkable variety

of interests, such as poetry, writing, astronomy, natural history, and


It is no surprise, then, that the same passion for variety governed

Saint-Saënsı musical writing. His output was vast, and he wrote in a diverse

number of musical genres. Throughout his eclectic style, the influences of

many composers, among them Berlioz, Liszt, Wagner and Verdi, can be heard.

In fact, Saint-Saëns sought to achieve clarity and beauty in his art while

maintaining the essence and lucidity of reason. Critic Philip Hale wrote

that ²[he was] French in clearness of expression, logic; exquisite taste..He

is seldom warm and tender; seldom does he indulge himself in sentiment,

passion, imagination. With him, unorthodox form must always be kept in

mind....² Saint-Saëns

himself once stated, ³Art has a place for artists of all kinds, and no one

should flatter himself that

he alone can cover the entire field..² Saint-Saënıs technique of using

freedom of form while lending the music a philosophical program is greatly

evident in the twenty concertos he wrote for various solo instruments.

The Violin Concerto No. 3 was completed in 1880, and premiered in 1881 by

the great Spanish

violinist Pablo de Sarasate, to whom the piece is dedicated. It was

immediately well-received and remains to this day a popular piece with

audiences. Saint-Saënsı association with Sarasate was

inspirational to the composer. Indeed, the concertoıs colorful passages were

written with Sarasateıs brilliant technique in mind, and its elegant nuances

are undoubtedly the product of the ³inside

information² about the solo violin that Sarasate shared with the composer.

It is said that

contemporaries of Saint-Saëns were afraid to perform the concerto in his

presence as, the

composer himself remarked, ³they were terrified at the idea of being

compared with Sarasate.²

Written in three movements, the Violin Concerto No. 3 opens with the solo

instrumentıs statement of the main theme over strings and kettledrum. The

piece is a study in contrasts: not only between movements, but within the

principal and secondary themes within the same movement. A dolce

and poetic second subject is played and the two themes are developed with

brilliance and

deft craftsmanship.

The gentle second movement is a welcome respite from the fiery passion of

the Allegro non troppo. A beautiful barcarolle, the second movement theme is

a dialogue between the solo instrument and the woodwinds. The movement

concludes with an unexpected cadenza in harmonics and broken chords for the

violin, accompanied by the clarinet. The gossamer, ethereal quality of this

passage sets the stage for the passionate finale which returns to the

original key and recalls the opening statement of the first movement. After

more intricately crafted passage work of transitional material that

introduces the very ³choral² second theme, the concerto ends with a

triumphant coda in B major.

­Laura Harth Rodriguez


Elmar Oliveira

Elmar Oliveira has taken his place as one of the

most commanding violinists of our time, with his

unsurpassed combination of impeccable artistry and old-world elegance. Mr.

Oliveira is one of the few major artists committed to the entire spectrum of

the violin world, constantly expanding traditional repertoire boundaries as

a champion of contemporary music and development of the young artists of

tomorrow, and enthusiastically supporting the art of modern violin and bow


Among his generationıs most honored artists, Elmar Oliveira remains the

first and only American violinist to win the Gold Medal at Moscowıs

Tchaikovsky International Competition. He is also the first violinist to

receive the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, in addition to capturing First

Prizes at the Naumburg International Competition and the G.B. Dealey


Mr. Oliveira has become a familiar and much-admired figure at the worldıs

foremost concert venues. His rigorous international itinerary includes

appearances in recital and with many of the worldıs greatest orchestras,

including the Zurich Tonhalle, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Leipzig Gewandhaus

Orchestras; the New York, Helsinki, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic

Orchestras; and the San Francisco, Baltimore, Saint Louis, Boston,

Indianapolis, Oregon, Vancouver, Taiwan and Chicago Symphonies, and the

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has also extensively toured the Far East,

South America, Australia, New Zealand, and regularly performs at the Mostly

Mozart, Seattle, Grant Park, Blossom, and Chautauqua summer music festivals.

Mr. Oliveiraıs repertoire is among the most diverse of any of todayıs

preeminent artists. While he has been hailed for his performances of the

standard violin

literature, he is also a much sought-after interpreter of the music of our

time. He has premiered works by such distinguished composers as Morton

Gould, Ezra Laderman, Charles Wuorinen, Joan Tower, Krzystof Penderecki,

Andrzej Panufnik, Benjamin Lees, Nicholas Flagello, Leonard Rosenman, Hugh

Aitken, and Richard Yardumian. He has also performed seldom-heard concerti

by Alberto Ginastera, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Joseph Achron, Joseph Joachim,

and many others.

A prodigious recording artist, Elmar Oliveira is a two time Grammy nominee

for his CD of the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis

Symphony. His discography on Angel, SONY Masterworks, Artek, Vox, Delos,

IMP, Ondine, and Melodiya ranges widely from works by Bach and Vivaldi to

the present. His best selling new recording of the Rautavaara Violin

Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic (Ondine) won a Cannes Classical

Award and has appeared on Gramophoneıs ³Editorıs Choice² and other Best

Recordings lists around the world. Other recent recordings include the

Joachim Concerto ³in the Hungarian Manner² with the London Philharmonic

(IMP) and the Tower Concerto (written for him) with the Louisville Orchestra

(dıNote). Also recently released is the rarely heard Pizzetti and Respighi

sonatas (Artek), the Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String

Quartet, and the Lekeu Sonata (Biddulph), and soon-to-be-released recordings

include the Brahms and Saint-Saëns B minor Concerti with Gerard Schwarz and

the Seattle Symphony (Artek). Of great historical significance are two

unique projects: a major book and CDs released by Bein & Fushi of Chicago,

featuring Mr. Oliveira

performing on some of the worldıs greatest violins (fifteen Stradivaris and

fifteen Guarneri del Gesus), and a recording of short pieces highlighting

the rare violins from the collection of the Library of Congress.

The son of Portuguese immigrants, Mr. Oliveira was nine when he began

studying the violin with his brother John. He later continued his studies

with Ariana Bronne and Raphael Bronstein at the Hartt College of Music and

the Manhattan School of Music, where Mr. Oliveira also received an honorary

doctorate. He has served on the juries of some of the most prestigious


competitions, including the Montreal, Indianapolis, Naumburg, and Vianna da

Motta. He has appeared on international TV including Good Morning America,

CBS Sunday Morning, the Today Show, and A&Eıs Breakfast with the Arts among

others. The Prime Minister of Portugal recently awarded Mr. Oliveira the

countryıs highest civilian honor - The Order of Santiago. Elmar Oliveira

performs exclusively on an instrument known as the ³Stretton,² made in

1729-30 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, and on an exact copy of that violin

made by Curtin and Alf in 1993.


Gerard Schwarz

Gerard Schwarz has been Music Director of the Seattle Symphony since 1985,

of the New York Chamber Symphony since 1976 and of New Yorkıs Mostly Mozart

Festival from 1982. Under his

leadership, he has amassed a vast recording profile of award winning albums

for the Seattle Symphony and has brought them to their new home in Benaroya

Hall in a gala concert on September 12, 1998; his

appearances with Mostly Mozart have continued their prestige as New Yorkıs

favorite summer festival and bought them a large television viewing audience

on the PBS network as well as an international profile with their tours; and

he has brought the New York Chamber Symphony from a fledgling organization

to a full concert season at Lincoln Centerıs Alice Tully Hall. He has

appeared as a guest conductor with the Washington Opera, the San Francisco

Opera, the Kirov Opera and the Seattle Opera as well as, most recently, in

Japan where he was Artistic Advisor to Tokyu Bunkamuraıs Orchard Hall from

1994 to 1997, in conjunction with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In the current season Maestro Schwarz will conduct eleven subscription

series concerts in the Seattle Symphonyıs new home, Benaroya Hall, as well

as special concerts with soloists Mstislav Rostropovich and Itzhak Perlman

and five

concerts in the ³Musically Speaking² series. He will present the world

premiere of David Diamondıs A Gala Celebration in the hallıs opening

concert, Bright Shengıs Spring Dreams with soloist Yo-Yo Ma, also in the

first weekıs celebrations, and new works by Francis Thorne, Henri Lazarof,

Hugh Aitken, David Stock and Samuel Jones, as well as music by Prokofiev,

Rachmaninov, Beethoven, R. Strauss and concert performances of Deems

Taylorıs opera Peter Ibbetson and the Verdi Requiem. His many recordings

with the orchestra have been devoted to music of American composers such as

Howard Hanson, Aaron Copland, Charles Griffes, Walter Piston, William

Schuman, Donald Hovhaness, David Diamond, Paul Creston, as well as music of

Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Bartok, Ravel, Schumann, Shostakovich and

Wagner, among others, and they have earned

accolades and Best Classical Album awards from Stereo Review Magazine, as

well as more than ten Grammy nominations. Their most recent releases have

been an album of music by Sir Andrzej Panufnik and one by Henri Lazarof on

the JVC label, and the Shostakovich Symphony No. 11 on Koch. He has recorded

extensively with other orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the

Czech Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish and English

Chamber Orchestras, Mostly Mozart, New York Chamber Symphony and Los Angeles

Chamber Orchestra.

In the 1998-99 season Mr. Schwarz lead the New York Chamber Symphonyıs

opening concert at Alice Tully Hall on October 24 in a concert featuring the

world premiere of the Three Preludes for Orchestra by Michael Hersch, and he

lead a second world premiere on March 13 of A Little Miracle by David Stock.

He first conducted the Mostly Mozart Festival in 1978, and since serving as

its Music Director from 1984, he has conducted a wide and varied repertoire

with the worldıs most distinguished soloists as guest artists, including


performances of many of Mozartıs rarely heard early operas. He has brought

Mostly Mozart as guests to the Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals and annual

tours of Japan, this season being their eighth visit there. Live concerts

with the Mostly Mozart Festival have been frequently featured on the PBS

Live from Lincoln Center programs.

During the current season, he will also appear as a guest conductor with

numerous orchestras including, among others, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and

the Royal Liverpool Orchestra, and he will lead performances with the

Seattle Opera of Weberıs Der Freischütz.

Aside from his televised appearances with Mostly Mozart, Gerard Schwarz has

been seen in A Romantic Evening, a Northwest Regional Emmy Award winning

program from KCTS/Seattle, and two broadcasts of his acclaimed educational

concerts entitled Musically Speaking. Under this name, he has also initiated

an extensive series of over twenty educational CDs.

Gerard Schwarz made his debut as a conductor in 1966, and within ten years

he had been appointed musical director of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company,

the Eliot Feld Dance Company, the Waterloo Festival and the New York Chamber

Symphony, as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1981, he

established the Music Today contemporary music series, serving as its Music

Director until 1989. He first conducted opera with the Washington Opera at

the Kennedy Center in 1982 with Mozartıs Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, and

he has led performances since with the Seattle and San Francisco Opera,

Juilliard Opera Theater and the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburgıs historic

Mariinsky Theatre in works including all of the major Mozart operas,

Straussıs Elektra, Salome and Rosenkavalier, Beethovenıs Fidelio, Wagnerıs

Der Fliegende Holländer, Verdiıs La traviata, Janacekıs The Cunning Little

Vixen, Stravinskyıs Le Rossignol and Debussyıs Pelléas et Mélisande which he

conducted in Japan in May of 1998 with immense success.

Mr. Schwarz was named Conductor of the Year by Musical America in 1994, and

he has received the Ditson Conductorıs Award from Columbia University, an

honorary Doctorate of Music from the Juilliard School, as well as honorary

degrees from Farleigh Dickinson University, the University of Puget Sound

and Seattle University.


Johannes Brahms

Violin Concerto in D, op. 77

[1] I. Allegro non troppo 22:48

[2] II. Adagio 9:33

[3] III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace 8:17

Camille Saint-Saëns

Violin Concerto in B minor, op. 61

[4] I. Allegro non troppo 8:47

[5] II. Andantino quasi allegretto 8:31

[6] III. Molto moderato e maestoso-Allegro non troppo 10:36

total time:


Producer: Adam Stern

Executive Producer: David Fulton

Engineer: Albert G. Swanson, SMI Recording

Editing Engineer: Dmitriy Lipay, SMI Recording

Mastering: Laura Harth Rodriguez, Francisco X. Rodriguez

Graphic Design: Jim Manly, Judd Robbins

Cover Photo: Laura Lewis

Elmar Oliveira, Violin

Gerard Schwarz, Conductor

Seattle Symphony

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