Wieniawsky f# concerto op. 14

July 18, 2005 at 05:35 AM · In the preface from an orchestral score (polish edition I believe) of the Wieniawsky concertos I've read "The first of Wieniawsky's conc. is much alike Ernst' the theatral pathos of the themes...The first movement of Wieniawsky's conc. in fis moll...lacks the contrast between the themes and the developement...the compositional style prooves the composer's preocupation for virtuosity effects and not for finding new componistical structures.The second differenciated by...melodies of a prononced triteness...etc...etc

If it is killed from the very beginning, how would a concert of such deepness which can truely be named transcedental can gane its deserved statute if critics makes it like a shame to perform it and, the real tragedy here, performers ignore it?

Have you heard Gitlis playing it? Absolutely exquisite!

Replies (46)

July 18, 2005 at 08:05 AM · I too agree this is a great piece!

July 18, 2005 at 02:45 PM · I think it's a good concerto, as well.

July 19, 2005 at 01:13 PM · I wouldn't call it underrated but, it is nice showpiece concerto.

July 31, 2005 at 09:53 PM · First of all, it's necessary to know that Wieniawsky wrote this work at the age of 18, therefore it's full of emotions and virtuosity, but I really think the Wieniawsky's later works were more mellow in musical construction, form, and emotions.

I liked this work very much, and I decided to play it for my exam,I suggested this to my teacher, and he approved. It was a really good experience for me to play this concerto , and I realized that it's impossible to be a critic for this work unless I play it.

It's full of technical difficulties such as very wide shifts, double harmonics, up and down staccato ....

And the interesting thing especially about the first movement, is that there are no rests for the soloist, maybe one rest before the second theme, then it's continuous hard work till the end of the movement.

The second movement is rather too short, and is all-played on the G string, it portends Wieniawsky's wonderful style in writing dialogs between a solo violin and an orchestra.

The rondo is energic and graceful, it reminds me of Vieuxtemps, maybe because Wieniawsky was his student.

Finally, I think all the matter that it's not frequently performed, and this is because it's very difficult and tiring, not because it lakes deepness or good musical craft, this is nonsense, we can hear many silly works always performed as virtuosic music .

I have three recordings for it (it's also interesting how much few are the recordings) ,the performers are: Victor Pikaizen, M. Brodsky, and Michael Rabin, I prefer Pikaizen's, and I look forward to hear Gitlis's.

I intend to upload Pikaizen's performance very soon on my page. I will inform you then.

Best regards.

August 1, 2005 at 12:31 PM · But when you compare Wieniawski 1 to say underplayed concertos like Berg, Bartok, Reger, Stravinsky, Shostakovich no.2, Mozart 1 and 2, Wieniawski 1 is just a showpiece concerto. All of the stuff written in it has virtuosity for the sake of showing off virtuosity. That is why I don't have much respect for his pieces. Besides some of the showpieces which are meant to show off virtuosity.

August 2, 2005 at 05:42 AM · Well, they may be showoff pieces but they are very well put together.

The orchestration of the two concerts is something that I find

interesting and it seems to be of a higher standard.

Anyone else notice this?

August 2, 2005 at 06:08 AM · I think the Wieniawski first is a way better piece than Bartok, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, or Berg. Wieniawski was a great composer, he said something very profound with every composition.

August 2, 2005 at 01:44 PM · You think Wieniawski's First is better than Berg,Stravinsky,Bartok, and Shostakovich? Honestly?

I actually had a Wieniawski obsession about a year ago, I wanted to learn everything by Wieniawski, and couldn't stop listening to his music, but that lasted for about a month, than I moved on to other comtemporary pieces...

August 2, 2005 at 02:43 PM · Yes Rick I do think so, and I don't think I'm going through one of those phases :) The 20th century concertos I like and do think are on a musical level with Wieniawski No.1 are Prokofiev 1&2, Szymanowski, Korngold, Castelnuovo-Tedesco No. 2, Walton, and Barber. That's of course just an opinion and a preference I hold having performed most of those works at one time or another.

August 2, 2005 at 03:32 PM · True, true. Everybody will always have their opinions and tastes.

August 4, 2005 at 06:49 AM · wow, i disagree very strongly with nate. i'll leave it at that

August 4, 2005 at 06:31 PM · This is the 1st movement, as I promised, played by Victor Pikaizen:

But it's old recording, so bad sound quality.

August 11, 2005 at 11:19 PM · Hey friends..didn't anybody hear this recordings? Any comments?

August 11, 2005 at 11:53 PM · Hey Violin H,

Thanks for posting this excellent recording of Mr. Pikayzen. This is just how I hear this piece in my head, now if I could only play it anywhere close to his level I'd be happy. He is no doubt one of the living legends of the violin world, I've heard lots of his other work, he's one of the best out there no doubt.

August 12, 2005 at 07:35 AM · I love Gil Shaham's recording of it... it's absolutely sublime.

August 12, 2005 at 07:09 PM · Well, when I started this topic I certainely didn't expect that the concerto will be compared with 20th century greatest concertos. Of course, musicologically would be a mistake to compare them, because Wieniawsky allways considered himself a romantic. It is funny to see you argue about this, since the topic was left with no comments for about a month.

It is a reality that a work composed by a violonist looses interest in the eyes of musicians if that composer's not Paganini. Of course, the arhitecture of a concerto by Wieniawsky is inferior to Prokofiev, but what about the emotional concentration and the beauty of the themes?

I wouldn't disconsider this concerto because of the side effects of virtuosity he used just to give a new sense to transcedental.

August 15, 2005 at 06:10 AM · Yes, the Wieniawski 1 is less structurally complex as a work of music compared with the listed concerti, including Wieniawski 2.

But there's a lyrical aspect to his melodies in Concerto 1 that are quite breathtaking.

Speaking of structure... there's a huge contrast b/w concertos 1 and 2.

Interestingly, concerto no. 2 is also the only concerto (I think, off the top of my head) that repeats verbatim (except the key?) the same theme in the 1st and 3rd movements. Contrast and complexity :)

Don't you think technical virtuosity does trade off with musicality in concerto 1's 3rd movement?

How often is this piece played for auditions/competitions?

August 17, 2005 at 07:26 AM · Hey wait lets go back to Wieniawski's 2nd concerto really fast. What's the great complexity in that one? And... how can one use it to play it better? :-P

August 17, 2005 at 07:37 PM · I simply can't figure out why W2 is so often performed and W1, a concert that reaches the emotional level of the great romantic concertos is fallen in such a disgrace. Could it be the key:)

And not only this conc., but there are some other from this cathegory in the same unfortunate situation: Ernst, Paganini3, 4, 5, 6, Bazzini Militaire, etc...

I may be criticized for this, but how is, for example, Paganini 1 better than Wien1? If you intend to comment this, be specific.

August 17, 2005 at 08:36 PM · W1 is harder then W2.

August 21, 2005 at 01:10 AM · I recently bought a recording of Gil Shaham playing Wieniawski 1 and 2.

They are both really great pieces. the CD also has Legende by Wieniawski and Zigeunerweisen by Sarasate.

August 22, 2005 at 04:37 AM · Wieniawski 1 definitely needs to be performed more often.

The Shaham recording is way better than this, IMHO.

August 22, 2005 at 06:07 AM · these virtuoso violin pieces fell out of favour because the virtuoso pianists (liszt, chopin, rachmaninov, et al) did everything the violinists did but were more musically inventive.

August 26, 2005 at 07:52 PM · I have exacly the same CD, Charlie. In the second movement, you could swear it is a cello playing.

The piano virtuoso composers, more inventive? Possible. The study of violin makes it impossible to forget the technical aspects completely and focus on the composition. If Wieniawsky would have dedicated the same number of hours for practice as Chopin, we would have probably never heard of him as violonist (Chopin himself wrote in numerous letters to his father that he practices less than 3 hours)...

August 27, 2005 at 02:14 AM · I can't believe I'm reading an argument like the one brought up by Basil. There is no comparison between the Wieniawski #1 and the Berg (just for example, I'm not a fan of this concerto at all). Let's make sure we have our dates straight. The Wieniawski is a wonderful piece, I agree with whoever brought up that the piece is exceedingly difficult to a point of not being a performance piece. Wieniawski wrote #1 for his own use and obviously wrote himself an incredibly difficult piece to display his virtuosity and skill in composition. 19th century music written by violinists were written for their use or use by their students, plain and simple. Generally a theme with variations, some more tasteful than others. So move it to the 20th century section of the record store if you'd like to compare the Berg concerto with anything...Berg vs. Reger op.101 have a ball, take it to another thread.

Back to topic, no I don't believe the Wieniawski #1, anyone who has heard a decent recording of this concerto (I recommend only Gil Shaham's) with rate it highly for you ;-)

Also note Ersnt has also a concerto in D major for which I have a complete set of music. Ttfn

August 27, 2005 at 03:27 AM · That is a fantastic recording! I love the depth of tone those old LPs have and CD's seem to lack.


August 27, 2005 at 04:47 AM · Who's recording is that ?

August 27, 2005 at 05:18 AM · The one Christopher posted:


August 27, 2005 at 07:07 AM · The orchestration is amazing. I forgot how much I like this concerto... there's so much drama. I have no idea why it isn't popular.

August 27, 2005 at 07:16 AM · Why it isn't very popular?Because it's extremely difficult:)))

But it's one of the most amazing pieces I've ever heard.Don't you think?

August 27, 2005 at 07:23 AM · Paganini is difficult, so is Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and a few others.. that doesn't hurt their popularity.

August 28, 2005 at 06:53 AM · HAVE YOU SEEN THE WIENIAWSKI!!?!??!

It's not like... normal hard, like Tchaikovsky (even though he's not a violinist) or like, virtuostic hard like Paganini. I think the only way you can properly describe it is Ridiculously hard. I recommend you get Gil Shaham's recording, and then read along in the music. Not only do you appreciate the piece, but then you can see Gil Shaham's true musical prowess.

The music can be found here at the bottom of the page:

Ahghghghgh I love this concerto

August 29, 2005 at 11:47 AM · I've collected 'pyrotechnical' violin recordings -going back to 1900- for mor than forty years. And it brought me to the opinion that maybe vasa prihoda was the most accomplished violinist the world has ever seen (heard). But having said that, I never heard Paganini, Bull, Lipinski, Ernst (according to Joachim, Ernst was the best violinist of the 19th century), Sivori, Vieuxtemps and/or Wieniawski. The works composed by these 19th century violinist were primarily meant to show their brilliant playing. Nothing wrong with that, as a matter of fact.

The first Wieniawski concerto is a very difficult work. A solo part that starts in tenths (in public) IS a nightmare. But works like these were still composed having a violin in mind. But what in case of the violin concerto by Schönberg? A work not merely difficult but almost inplayable, as most fiddlers lack a 6th finger at their left hand :-) As far as I know, only Isakadze managed to muddle through.

On the other hand, remembering Milstein: 'There are no difficult works. Either you can play it or you can't'.

August 29, 2005 at 04:41 PM · Ronald,

Tetzlaff, Znaider and Amoyal all managed to "muddle through" Schoenberg quite brilliantly:) It is not easy however - I heard it took Amoyal 2 years(!) to finger it...


August 29, 2005 at 06:05 PM · Ilya,

You're right: I should have mentioned Tetzlaff and Znaider as well. And I feel deeply ashamed I do not know Amoyal's rendition. But I owe parts of the one by Krasner :-)

Most probably I (only) mentioned Isakadze because she played the first recorded version I ever heard.

I heard this work only once live on stage. That is, half of it, because halfway the soloist ran from the stage, leaving audience, conductor and orchestra behind. I'm very sorry but I don't remember his name :-)

August 29, 2005 at 06:26 PM · Totally serialized music, or atonal music can be fiendishly difficult.

Violinists do not condition themselves to play octatonic scales and thing slike that...

August 29, 2005 at 06:59 PM · On Schoenberg, actually one of the few other great recordings of the piece other then Krasner is that of Zvi Zeitlin. In terms of the difficulty of the concerto, I don't know if in the case of Schoenberg that the reason why it is not played more often is that it is unplayable, or that there are people that simply don't like it. After all, I doubt that it would have been unplayeble for Milstein, Heifetz, Kogan, etc.

August 29, 2005 at 07:10 PM · There are many fantastic technicians whom I have no doubt could pull it off. Perhaps it doesn't appeal to most violinists.

August 29, 2005 at 07:31 PM · In case of the Schoenberg concerto (and most other works after his 'tonal' period, it is the idiom that some violinists (and audiences :-)) do not like, to put it mildly. I am sure both Heifetz and Milstein would have been able to master this work technically, but they were not interested in playing. After all, all those compositions Heifetz (e.g. Rosza and Walton)commissioned, can hardly be called 'modern' in the sense of the second Viennese school. But did Heifetz ever play the 1st Shostakovich concert? He apparently did not even like Prokofievs concerto # 1. Elman, of all people, at least played the Martinu concerto in public :-)

Milstein, in his 'genre' is one of my favorite violinists. But he and Heifetz were not really curious (longing for) contemporary music, like Szigeti or Gertler. Or more recent, Kremer. A bit the problem I have with most Galamian-DeLay-like 'schools', training their students in works of only long-dead. Ever heard the finalists in the Queen Elisabeth (former Ysäye) competition? The most modern free-choice work in all those years was the Sibelius concerto :-)

August 29, 2005 at 09:22 PM · Actually, I cannot really agree with this comment about Milstein. After all, Milstein was one of the first interpreters of Prokofiev no.1, Szymanowski no.1, and Berg Concerto. He also had an admiration for Stravinsky. I do agree that he did not like Schoenberg's music, but that did not prevent him from being an ardent admirer of Berg, so him not playing Schoenberg was due simply to his dislike of the composer's music, not b/c 20th century music was not his specialty.

In terms of QE finalists, many people played Shostakovich 1 this year. However, I also think that it's worth pointing out that that modern or new music doesn't always mean music of great quality (in either depth, aestheticaly, or violinistically). Though of course, quality is a matter of preception.

August 29, 2005 at 10:21 PM · Well, I think everyone but Antal played Shostakovich, so I don't think that is exactly true.

However, what you do have correct is that most aren't taught a lot of the newer rep..

August 30, 2005 at 08:06 AM · I completely overlooked the Shostakovich concerto! Must be the age :-)

Having said that, neither the 1st Shostakovich concerto (and the 2nd) nor Szymanovsky/Prokofiev/Bartok/Strawinsky are (were) 'modern' works. Only the concerto by Alban Berg is. From memory André Gertler seems to have been one of the very few who recorded quite a lot of (then) contemporary works: Malipiero, Hartmann, Milhaud (2nd concerto), Seiber and Casella.

In case of the QE competition I have to add that finalist also have to play an obliged work, specially written for the occasion.

But the question remains (I realize I am very OT) why so few contemporary (what's in a word?) works are played in concert. Because of the audience? Because of the soloists or their teachers? Because of the jury (in competitions)?

August 30, 2005 at 07:38 PM · Seems to be the effect of a mass ignoration of the contemporany repertoire. The time will decide about the modern works.

I really don't think W1 is technically inabordable and that is the reason it's not played. And there are recordings more than decent besides Gil Shaham's. Still, he makes it sound so natural...

August 31, 2005 at 12:26 PM · Without wishing to get mired in arguments, I'd just like to point out (-if someone hasn't already, and I didn't notice -)that there is a wonderful record of Michael Rabin playing the Wienawski 1st. I don't know if it's available on CD.

September 3, 2005 at 04:15 AM · I just bought a recording of Vadim Brodsky playing Wieniawksi 1... very dissapointing. I don't think he gets it. Although technically brilliant, and some nice lyrical passages, I really don't like it. He plays Scherzo Tarrentella with orchestra, and that I believe he totally misses the point of.. I want to return/exchange this CD...

September 8, 2005 at 07:29 PM · It is strange the fact that Scherzo Tarantella is performed extremely often by kids. And still, there are not many decent recordings of it...

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