Jonathan Carney, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, is not about to redefine the classical concerto. But he does have an interesting take on Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, which will be the featured piece in the BSO's Saturday performance at Strathmore.
"It's really chamber music," said Carney, of Brahms' final work for orchestra. "It's two instruments working together all the time to create a certain type of sound which is [different] from a single solo sound."
There are, according to Carney, only a handful of double concertos for violin and cello, and, in his opinion, there are really no others worth playing.
"It's classic Brahms -- it's big and rich and powerful, and it is first and foremost a vehicle to display the cello's virtuosity," he continued. "It's not so much for the violin; it is really a cello concerto with violin accompaniment."
|BSO performs Brahms, Mozart and Strauss|
|Where: Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda|
|When: 8 p.m. Saturday|
|Info: $30 to $90; 410-783-8000; bsomusic.org|
There would have been no Brahms concerto at all, but for the fact that it was written as a peace offering to the composer's estranged friend, violinist Joseph Joachim. The two fell out during Joachim's divorce when Brahms took the wife's side instead of his. And so, in a no-hard-feelings gesture, Brahms presented Joachim with a great piece of music to perform with cellist Robert Hausmann.
Ironically, the piece is performed Saturday by two friends -- violinist Carney and BSO principal cellist, Dariusz Skoraczewski.
"It is important that the players are like-minded with phrasing and intonation because that's mostly what the piece is about," Carney explained. "It's just a pure, Romantic concerto for two instruments, and the challenge [here] is getting the balance and texture correct with the orchestra."
Balancing out the evening's repertoire, with guest conductor Cornelius Meister, is a pleasing pairing of Mozart and Strauss.
Symphony No. 35, "Haffner" began its life as a serenade, which Mozart composed to be played at the wedding of Marie Elisabeth Haffner. Only later, by commission of the bride's father, was the piece reworked into the symphony we know today.
The concert closes with Richard Strauss' playful tone poem "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks," which depicts the hijinks of Till Eulenspiegel, a German folk hero.