Lutoslawski took Paganini’s ever-popular 24th Caprice for solo violin and remodelled
it as a set of variations for two pianos, playing it in unofficial concerts in Warsaw
during the German occupation. The sheet music for this was his only piece from these two-piano concerts to survive the Warsaw Uprising. Later he created this lively acerbic version to show off the virtuosity of pianist Felicja Blumental.
Brahms’ sunniest symphony was composed among the beautiful lakeside surroundings of the Austrian village of Pörtschach. Horns and woodwinds introduce a mellow opening theme after a three-note motif in the cellos that is cleverly woven throughout in various guises. Not all is sunshine; mournful trombones and timpani like distant thunder disturb the peace. The long cello melody in the second movement is beautifully heartbreaking; Brahms follows it with a quirky pastoral third movement led by the oboe. The ending builds to a glorious close.