March 21, 2012 at 6:33 PMToday we move to works by Eastern European composers, both which are highly Romantic works that require feats of great violin technique: the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto vs. Wieniawski Violin Concerto No. 2
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky wrote his violin concerto in 1878 and dedicated it to Leopold Auer, who famously pronounced it "unplayable" and refused to play its premiere. (Adolph Brodsky played the premiere in 1881) Of course, Auer later revised that statement -- after many violinists found it quite playable, indeed: "It is incorrect to state that I had declared the concerto in its original form unplayable. What I did say was that some of the passages were not suited to the character of the instrument, and that, however perfectly rendered, they would not sound as well as the composer had imagined," Auer wrote in 1912. Well, it's all water under the bridge. Auer later embraced the concerto (with a few of his own edits, which some people play and others don't), and the rest of the world certainly has embraced it.
Isaac Stern in his prime, playing with Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, conductor, in 1958. Sorry no visuals!
I. Allegro moderato
II. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22 by Henryk Wieniawski
Written in 1856, this concerto was most certainly a vehicle for the virtuosity of its composer, the violinist Henryk Wieniawski, though it was dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate. (Here are some informative program notes on the work) The whole concerto is awash in Romanticism; the middle movement heavenly (I like to play it just to feel better about life) and the last movement is a great way to show off your amazing spiccato, if you have it!
Here's another purely musical video, of violinist Michael Rabin performing with the London Philharmonia Orchestra, Eugene Goossens conducting:
I. Allegro moderato
II. Romance: Andante non troppo
III. Allegro con fuoco – Allegro moderato (à la Zingara)
(And just for fun, part of the third movement is here, you can see 14-year-old Itzhak Perlman performing wildly well - he has the amazing spiccato/sautille/everything going on - and also see Ed Sullivan butcher the name "Wieniawski"! http://youtu.be/amS4IZfA_tc)
I know some people discuss the technical difficulties of this concerto. However, in my view it is much like the Brahms concerto in that it is not the technical stuff that makes this concerto hard, but getting the expression right and telling a good story with the performance.
I think I' ve heard more differing stories in performances of the Tchaikovsky than any other concerto (knowing what was going on in his life during this time really impacts how one can play this work). People often say the third movement is happy, but I often hear the solo part as being less happy than the orchestra. Its as if the soloist is feigning happiness to keep up appearances - which is what Tchaikovsky was trying to do during this part of his life.
Just my two cents. . .
Laurie, thanks for giving us all the information about the pieces. You did a lot of background work, and I've learned a lot.
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