Alexander Melnikov, piano
Ivor Bolton, conductor
Johannes Brahms (1833−1897):
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Nr. 1 d minor, op. 15 (1857)
César Franck (1822–1890):
Symphony D minor, FWV 48 (1888)
Neither as a piano sonata nor as a symphony did Johannes Brahms' latest composition seem to be properly suited in the spring of 1854. Overnight, so to speak, he finally came up with the idea of reworking his draft into a piano concerto. To Clara Schumann he wrote: "Think what I dreamed that night. I would have used my unsuccessful symphony for my piano concerto and played this. I was quite enthusiastic." The concerto was received less enthusiastically at its second performance in Leipzig on January 27, 1859. Even the composer, sitting at the piano himself, remarked that his concerto which "shone brilliantly and decisively here - flunked."
It was only at an advanced age that César Franck composed his first and only symphony, which ingeniously combines French charm with absolute music à la Beethoven. Audiences and critics reacted with irritation at the premiere. It was discussed whether the composer belonged more to the camp of Wagner's programme music or to that of Brahms and the followers of absolute music. Franck, whose 200th birthday is being celebrated this season, did not live to see his work triumph in the concert halls: One year after its premiere in 1889, he died in Paris as the result of a traffic accident.