Brahms: Piano Concerto no. 1
Discussion: Martina Filjak and Benjamin Zander
“This is a volcanic eruption, with intensity, drive, and impetuosity that is absolutely thrilling.”
— Benjamin Zander
The first concerto is the beginning, the explosion, the violent eruption of a genius talent. Here we are together working out this amazing work. It’s huge in size and its problems are great, but its challenges and its joys are also extraordinary. She plays it amazingly.
Well, I’m of course very happy to be here. Ben and I, we had just started to do our journey together and it’s both a physical and mental journey. I say physical journey, because a few days ago I played in Madrid and in Germany. Yesterday, which was Monday, beginning of the working week, I had a trip from Frankfurt to Boston. Afterwards, immediately, we had our first rehearsal together. That was the physical journey part.
The emotional and mental journey is continuing this morning. It’s very interesting how different and how same in the same way, or in the same time our intentions are. I think our main intention is to make music and to make a wonderful piece of music with a lot of tension and with a lot of energy. We are both sometimes approaching it from a different angle, but always with the absolutely same goal.
I personally adore the Bronx Piano Concerto. I’m aware of the fact that maybe it’s not the most usual thing that young pianists always represent themselves with. The first time I played it… The first time I started learning it I was about 16 years old, which was a while ago. Three, four years ago. What I love about the Brahms Concerto is not only, as Ben said, that it’s an amazing symphonic work, but in the very beginning I’m aware of the fact that Brahms had meant it to be a vocal. Actually, a choral work. From all the piano concerts that I know, definitely, for me personally, this one is the one that’s more… The mostly one that is spoken out. It’s really speaking all the time. It can be sung at every particular moment. This is also one thing that Ben wants to achieve. He wants it to be sung and I want it to be pronounced. It’s a very intense moment of rehearsing and I’m positive will have wonderful concerts.
It’s also lovely when two people from a completely different age, I’m 73, almost, and Martina is at the beginning of a great career in her middle twenties. We have almost 50 years of time between us and we bring different perspectives. This is a firebrand player. This is a volcanic eruption here, with intensity, and drive, and impetuosity that is absolutely thrilling. Maybe, because of my age and long view I take a very broad view. It’s a combination. It’s melding something together.
We just began. We played last night in the rehearsal, but in the discussion this morning we began to really mold it. Like sculptors trying to find the shape, and the timing, and the expression. It’s very exciting.