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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Who wrote your favorite Brahms Violin Concerto cadenza?

October 26, 2012 at 7:50 PM

In the course of writing up our interview with the French violinist Renaud Capuçon, I discovered something about the beloved Brahms Violin Concerto: people have written a cajillon cadenzas to this piece! I knew that there were a number of them, beyond the original cadenza by the concerto's dedicatee, Joseph Joachim. But I didn't realized there were more than 20!

I compiled a list: Leopold Auer, Joshua Bell, Adolf Busch, Ferruccio Busoni, George Enescu, Hugo Heermann, Jascha Heifetz, Nigel Kennedy, Franz Kneisel, Fritz Kreisler, Jan Kubelik, Henri Marteau, Nathan Milstein, Franz Ondricek, Rachel Barton Pine, Max Reger, Ruggiero Ricci, Edmund Singer, Donald Francis Tovey, Eugène Ysaÿe. Add to this Raphael Klayman...

This week I'd like to explore these cadenzas by asking you to vote on a few of them, and I've provided more links here, so you can explore more. Tell us your thoughts! Also, please let us know if I have left anyone off this long list! Surely I have, so please add to it, if you know more of these cadenzas to the Brahms. Under the vote are some examples to help you decide:

Joseph Joachim cadenza, played by Hilary Hahn

Fritz Kreisler cadenza, played by Christian Ferras:

Leopold Auer cadenza, played by Jascha Heifetz (cadenza begins at 16:10):

Rachel Barton Pine cadenza, played by Rachel Barton Pine: Listen here.

Sixteen cadenzas, all played by Ruggiero Ricci! Underneath is a list with where you can find each one:

18:03 Cadenza by Ferruccio BUSONI (1'46")
19:49 Cadenza by Joseph JOACHIM (2'50")
22:47 Cadenza by Edmund SINGER (2'40")
25:34 Cadenza by Hugo HEERMANN (1'38")
27:20 Cadenza by Leopold AUER (3'07")
30:35 Cadenza by Eugène YSAŸE (3'02")
33:44 Cadenza by Franz ONDRICEK (2'41")
36:33 Cadenza by Franz KNEISEL (2'12")
38:53 Cadenza by Henri MARTEAU (2'10")
41:08 Cadenza by Fritz KREISLER (2'42")
43:59 Cadenza by Donald Francis TOVEY (2'44")
46:51 Cadenza by Jan KUBELIK (2'20")
49:17 Cadenza by Adolf BUSCH (1'48")
51:13 Cadenza by Jascha HEIFETZ (2'46")
54:06 Cadenza by Nathan MILSTEIN (2'15")
56:28 Cadenza by Ruggiero RICCI (1'50")

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on October 26, 2012 at 9:21 PM
I'm most familiar with the Joachim and still think it's great - and that's the one that Brahms heard.

As to my own, well, when I eventually publish and perform it, I'll leave it to others to decide whether they like it. One thing I do in it which is a little different, is that I incorporate a passge or two from the opening orchestral tutti that never made it into the violin part. I mean, why not?

One of my former teachers, Arturo Delmoni, told me an interesting story, that when he auditioned for Heifetz, he played the Brahms and thought that he'd make an extra good impression on the master by playing Heifetz' own cadenza for him. But it is extremely difficult. Arturo sweated and strained and finally got through it, panting for air. Heifetz looked at him unsympathetically and said "I didn't write it to be easy!" But he did accept Arturo into his class.

From Michael Pijoan
Posted on October 26, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Personally when I was learning the Joachim one I felt like it was so similar in flavor to the rest of the concerto that it didn't really feel like a cadenza to me. More like an addition to the first movement.

I like Kreisler's because even though it is thematically based on Brahms' material it feels more personal and sentimental, giving it a feeling of breaking away from the rest just long enough to offer the listener a refreshment.

From Raphael Klayman
Posted on October 27, 2012 at 2:17 AM
I just listened to some of the Ricci cadenza recordings. He was still playing brilliantly in 1991. But despite his strong musical personality, when he played the cadenzas of Kreisler, Heifetz and Milstein, I felt I could almost hear those respective artists, and understand how the choices they made fitted them!
From Corwin Slack
Posted on October 27, 2012 at 11:14 PM
The Ricci recording is very interesting. It shows that great thematic material makes for a great cadenza. I liked all of them and think that it would be nice if more artists played them or created their own.
From Karen Shaffer
Posted on October 29, 2012 at 4:24 PM
The American violinist Maud Powell (1867-1920),who studied with Joachim, composed the third cadenza ever written for the Brahms violin concerto in 1891, when she was 24. Her cadenza is a beautiful "well-crafted gem" and is performed today by Rachel Barton Pine, among others. Powell's cadenza has been published in "Maud Powell Favorites", an edition of rare violin masterpieces, including Powell's transcriptions, like Deep River, and music dedicated to her as well as her cadenza. The collection is available from The Maud Powell Society, and well worth every violinist's time and interest as it contains pieces as magical as Kreisler's and a history of violin music in America that can be found nowhere else. You can hear some of this music on Rachel Barton Pine's CD "American Virtuosa, Tribute to Maud Powell."
From Christina C.
Posted on October 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM
Until last week I would have said Joachim but I just heard Maxim Vengerov play the Brahms & he played his own cadenza. I thought was fantabulous. I wasn't looking to buy another recording of this piece but I may have to just to have that cadenza.

at the 17:50 mark here

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