Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15
My first encounter with the work…
When I was 13, I attended the finals of the Concours international de piano de Montréal. The winner, Canadian pianist Angela Cheng, played this work. I went bonkers for it! I was obsessed with the concerto’s character, dark yet tender and heroic. The decision was made there and then: Brahms was my favourite composer. And he still is!
My favorite passage
Not easy to choose one. As a pianist (yes, I’m a pianist too), I’d say the first entry of the piano after the orchestra’s introduction. As a conductor, I’d say the end of the first movement, with its impression of the orchestra and piano being locked in a struggle. One of the recordings I like best is by pianist Hélène Grimaud and the Berlin Staatskapelle conducted by Kurt Sanderling. It’s on the Warner label.
Here you can listen to Hélène Grimaud talk about both of Brahms’ piano concertos and play excerpts from them with the Vienna Philharmonic under Andris Nelssons on the Deutsche Grammophon label.