BRAHMS / JOACHIM: Hungarian Dances (Chris Craker/ John Lenehan/ Marat Bisengaliev) (Naxos: 8.553026)
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Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Hungarian Dances for Violin and Piano (arr. Joachim)
Joseph Joachim (1831-1907)
Andantino in A minor
Romance in B flat major
The violinist Joseph Joachim first met Brahms in 1853, when thelatter embarked on a concert tour with the Hungarian violinist Edo Remenyi. Joachimhimself was born at Kitsee near Pressburg, the modern Bratislava, in 1831 and moved withhis family to Pest in 1833. There he was able as a child to develop his remarkable giftsas a violinist under the tutelage of the Polish virtuoso Stanislaw Serwaczynski, who latertaught Henryk Wieniawski. He gave his first public recital in Pest at the age of seven andwas sent in the same year to Vienna, where he studied first with Hauser, then with GeorgHellmesberger, Hauser's teacher, and finally with Joseph Bohm, Hellmesberger's ownteacher. In 1843 he began an association in Leipzig with Mendelssohn, from whom he learneda great deal. Here he was able to further his wider education, notably in compositionlessons with Moritz Hauptmann, who occupied the position once held by Bach as cantor atthe Thomasschule, and with Hauptmann's former pupil, the violinist Ferdinand David.
Joachim appeared as a soloist in a Leipzig Gewandhaus concert in 1843, playing an Adagio and Rondo by Beriot, and later in the same year heplayed Ernst's Othello-Phantasie
with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, directed by Mendelssohn.
He now embarked on an international career as a soloist. In1850 Joachim briefly served as orchestral leader in Weimar under Liszt, now establishedthere as Director of Music Extraordinary. Here he was able to arrange evening chambermusic recitals, but found himself gradually in artistic disagreement with Liszt, who wasnow embarking on his series of symphonic poems, seeing the future of music in terms thatwere alien to Joachim and, subsequently, to Brahms. Joachim moved now to Hanover asviolinist to the King and developed friendship with the Schurnanns, a relationship thatwas a natural extension of his earlier relationship with Mendelssohn, who had died in1847. The meeting with Brahms led to a visit by the latter to Weimar, where Brahms'scompanion, the emigre violinist Remenyi, expected encouragement from afellow-countryman. Here, however, Brahms' partnership with Remenyi foundered, and ratherthan return to Hamburg empty-handed, he now continued his friendship with Joachim andthrough him met the Schumanns in D??sseldorf.
Joachim's relationship with Brahms was important. The latterwas able to call on Joachim for advice in orchestration and in writing for strings, andwas undoubtedly influenced by the quartet that Joachim established in Hanover and by thevery distinguished Joachim Quartet, established first in 1869. Brahms and Joachim wereunited in their opposition to the Neo-German school of Liszt and Wagner and theirfriendship was only broken when Brahms, with habitual indiscretion, wrote a letter ofsupport to Joachim's wife, the singer Amalie Weiss, when divorce was threatened. Theletter was produced in court as evidence of Joachim's unreasonable behaviour, and thedivorce was not granted. A measure of amity was restored when Brahms wrote for Joachim hisDouble Concerto,for violin and cello.
As a composer Joachim wrote relatively little. He left,however, a series of useful cadenzas to major classical concertos, violin studies andeditions and a number of works for violin and orchestra and violin or viola and piano. Hisarrangement of Brahms's popular Hungarian Dances returns to suitably idiomatic musical form the21 dances that Brahms had written between 1852 and 1869 for piano duet. These werepublished in that form in 1869 and in 1880, with an arrangement of the first two books forone player appearing in 1872. The dances capture something of the spirit of supposedHungarian gypsy music. Included in the present recording are two pieces by Joachim forviolin and piano, an Andantino and a Romance,the first a more substantial work, arranged by Joachim from his own composition for violinand orchestra.
Marat Bisengaliev was born in Alma-Ata in Kazakhstan in 1962and began to learn the violin at the age of six, graduating from the Alma-Ata Conservatoryin 1984 with a first prize. He went on to study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscowwith Boris Belinky and Valerie Klimov. Having made his concerto debut at the age of ninein Alma-Ata, Bisengaliev continued to perform as a soloist throughout Eastern Europe andalso served as Artistic Director of the Kazakhstan Chamber Orchestra, before settling in1989 in England. In 1991 Bisengaliev won first prize in the International Nicanor ZabaletaCompetition, also receiving the special virtuoso prize for the most outstandingperformance of the competition. He earlier was a prize-winner in 1988 at the LeipzigInternational Bach Competition. He made his concerto debut in England playing theBeethoven concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a London performanceof the Tchaikovsky concerto. He has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras in Russia,England, Germany, Poland and the former Republic of Czechoslovakia. His recordings includeconcertos issued by Melodiya, Naxos and Marco Polo and he has been three times the subjectof a Central Soviet Television documentary, most recently in 1992.
John Lenehan is one of Britain's most experienced and soughtafter chamber musicians. He regularly partners Julian Lloyd Webber and Nigel Kennedy andhas worked with many other leading instrumentalists including James Galway, John Harle,Steven Isserlis and Tasmin Little. During the last few seasons he has appeared in majorconcert halls in London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Salzburg, New York, Washington and Tokyo andhas made a number of recordings for major record companies.