Bravo New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, soloists and conductor Pietari Inkenen for their inspired four-day festival of Brahms in Wellington last week. I want to write about this here for several reasons.
First, The Violinist tells the story of the NZSO since its pioneering days when the courage and spirit of players such as Clare Galambos laid the foundation for the superb orchestra we hear today.
Secondly, I simply love Brahms. I fell in love with his Violin Concerto as a girl, I sang his German Requiem many times in my years with the Orpheus Choir of Wellington (the last time was in 2008 on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht ) and, more recently, my work on Crisis was relieved by pounding around the hills listening to his symphonies on my i-Pod. The Brahms experience last week left me thirsty for more.
Thirdly, to show how strangely interwoven the strands of writing and music can be, concert pianist Diedre Irons, soloist for last week’s Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, helped proofread The Violinist. It’s a measure of friendship, but also her interest, that she devoted her hard-earned holiday between Christmas and New Year to such a task and The Violinist benefited from the attention of her musical intelligence and sensitivities.
The book’s main text is over 180,000 words – an average length. I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands notes the soloist plays in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.2 but it’s the biggest work in the piano repertoire. Diedre’s rendition last Wednesday night was built on hundreds of hours to learn it, all the Brahms she has played previously, and indeed, a lifetime’s work in music since her debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the age of 12, playing the Schumann Piano Concerto. It was wonderful to hear her colleagues, especially other pianists, pay tribute. Of the critics, Peter Mechen on Upbeat best reflected their views. Listen to Upbeat online – TuneIn