Brahms – Cello Concerto

Brahms wrote the Double Concerto during the summer months of 1887, while he was staying at Lake Thun. He did in fact consider writing a violoncello concerto on the request of his friend Robert Hausmann, the cellist of the Joachim Quartet ( the extended opening Cadenza was originally written for solo cello only) . But things turned out differently. He told Clara Schumann that he had an "amusing idea," for he wanted to write a concerto for violin and violoncello. Behind this was the secret wish to use this constellation of instruments to effect a reconciliation with his old friend Joseph Joachim, from whom he had become estranged through a quarrel years ago. Brahms worried that Hausmann could have been disappointed in the as yet unwritten cello concerto, in that he wrote to him: "... or else you would have been highly ill-humoured and taken it badly that I would have even added a solo violin to a cello concerto."

On 20 September, Brahms travelled with the completed score and orchestral parts to Baden-Baden, where Joseph Joachim and Robert Hausmann played the new composition at Clara Schumann's house for the first time. The world premiere then took place at the beginning of the next season, on 18 October 1887, with the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne.

The purpose of the 'reconstruction' (made after Brahms' original sketches, by Cord Garben, the conductor and the President of the Brahms Gesellschaft in Hamburg) was to restore the original Cello Concerto project (the extended opening cello Cadenza written by Brahms, survived in sketches in its entirety) and to bring together the most important thematic segments of both solo parts (again) into a substantial, independent solo part. The rather neglected role of the woodwinds in the Double concerto version was considerably upgraded through the "allotment" of the violin part's figurative elements.

The world premiere of this original version of the work took place in Hamburg Musikhalle on 23/24 October 2004 with Alexander Ivashkin as a soloist, and Hamburger Sinfoniker under their Music director Andrey Boreyko. The Concerto was subsequently performed by the same soloist in Moscow, Russia, at the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, with the Russian State SO under Valery Poliansky on 26 February 2005; in Auckland Town Hall , Auckland, New Zealand, with the Auckland Philharmonia conducted by Christopher Wilkins, on 21 April 2005; in St. Petersburg, Russia, in St Petersburg Capella Hall, with St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Vladimir Verbitsky on 2 February, 2007. The Score has been published by Hans Sikorski, Hamburg in 2008.