I have been fascinated with the Brahms Concerto since my earliest violin lessons. I began studying it when I was 14, and it rapidly became a mainstay of my repertoire. It was with the Brahms Concerto that I won several of my international prizes and made many of my debuts in Europe and America. It remains one of the most fulfilling works I perform.
I have been intrigued by Joachim's "Hungarian" Concerto for many years. When I began to study it intensely it seemed a very natural fit, enhanced by two of my professors' strong connections to this music. One of my Chicago teachers, Roland Vamos, shares Joachim's Hungarian Jewish heritage. As a youngster, Dr. Vamos frequently accompanied his father to hear gypsy music in the cabarets of New York's Hungarian section. He even supported himself through college by playing gypsy tunes as a strolling violinist. His stylistic knowledge was an invaluable resource. My teacher in Berlin, Werner Scholz, was a student of Gustav Havemann, who studied with Joachim. I feel fortunate to have gained knowledge about both the Joachim and Brahms Concertos from one so close to the original source. My study of the Brahms was augmented also by reading Joachim's essay in his Violinschule in which he laid out how he felt the Brahms concerto should be played.
The long friendship between Brahms and Joachim enhanced their music and their lives. Friendship has also enhanced the performances on this recording. When I debuted with the Chicago Symphony at age ten, I gushed in a televised interview, "the Chicago Symphony isn't just any old orchestra. It's a great big, super-duper orchestra!" Over the eighteen years and many solo performances that followed, I came to know most members of the orchestra personally. The coaches, mentors, and teachers of my early teens have become chamber music partners, colleagues, and friends. Our history of working together adds a special dimension to the music whenever we collaborate.
I first met Maestro Carlos Kalmar shortly before this recording when we collaborated on the Joachim "Hungarian" Concerto in concerts with Chicago's Grant Park Orchestra. He is an amazing and inspiring musician with a warm personality. I will always be grateful for his musicianship, humor, and energy throughout our two-day recording marathon. He became a kindred musical spirit and a dear friend. I am very excited to be able to share with you these two wonderful concertos. (Rachel Barton Pine)