Schumann's violin concerto is indeed quite nice, but it hasn't completely done it for me yet I think. His piano however, now that's an amazing piece of music! It's one of my favorite romantic concerto, that's for sure, but then I'm not all that much of a concerto fanatic*, especially not the violin ones. I can't stand the Beethoven for instance, it would have made for a brilliant symphony but it's absolutely awful as a concerto. I guess this is probably a bit of an overstatement, and I should probably listen to a few more recordings of it before making a generalization like that, but I really do believe that Beethoven wasn't in his element with the concerto form.
The Brahms one has its great moments, but there's also times when I feel like I'm listening to a virtuosic showpiece (Joachim's influence, I presume). Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, both never managed to make much of an impression on me, though as far as 20th Century goes, the fiery Khatchaturian one with its frightening momentum and all its ridiculously catchy melodies gets my vote for sure. If Armenian folk music sounds if only half as awesome as that, it's something that I'll have to investigate. I do like the Mendelssohn one a lot too, but maybe on a sligthly different level than stuff like the Brahms third symphony.
Because going back to Schumann here, if anything, that Symphony is the greatest testament that he had some of the greatest ideas out of all composers. When you think about it, Brahms was able to make a major theme of out of a dead end from Schumann's third, and it's the glorious very first theme of the first movement that we're talking about here (not that the other movement or themes are inferior to it, the symphony's so amazingly even in its greatness throughout its entire length). I'll need to listen to more of Schumann's works eventually, I tried some of his early piano pieces (performed by Sviatoslav Richter), and I wasn't entirely convinced (dripping with the type romanticism that I kind of dislike). Maybe I should have gone with someone else than Richter though, I think I might prefer them as performed by someone with a drier touch (Brendel maybe? or Kempff? someone else? that's something that I'll have to look into, I don't know enough about pianists yet to know where exactly I should go).
*except as far as Mozart is concerned, obviously
edit: and now that I think of it, finding a good recording of brahms third is something that I'll have to do eventually too, neither the Szell/Chicago, Karajan/BPO recording or even the Nagano/OSM concert were completely satisfying to me (I kind of make up for that by doubling the music in my head, but then a truly great performance would probably make the experience even more amazing).
Edited by Taxes-, 16 May 2009 - 07:15 PM.