Concerto Recommendations?

February 28, 2018, 4:28 PM · I am looking for a concerto to learn to play for my school's concerto competition around October. I played Meditation from Thais for my juries and learned Czardas before that. I am in my school's Advanced String Orchestra and Symphonic Youth Orchestra. I am the fourth chair first violinist in the Symphonic Youth Orchestra and third chair first violinist in the Advanced Strings Orchestra. We are currently playing Academic Festival Overture, Egmont, Carmen, and Pictures at an Exhibition. Any good concerto recommendations?

Replies (16)

February 28, 2018, 4:43 PM · What concertos have you played?
What concertos have you listened to.?
What concertos do you like?
What concertos do you want to play?
What does your teacher say?
February 28, 2018, 4:51 PM · Hi Andrew. So far, I have tried the Mendelssohn concerto and the 5th Mozart Concerto. I like both of them so far but I don't think I can learn and perfect either of them on time. I don't have a teacher so I can't get any help there.
February 28, 2018, 5:00 PM · Folks here will wince at the idea of your learning any concerti without the expert guidance of a teacher...but assuming you are going to do this anyway, I'd look at Bach a minor, Accolay, Haydn G major, or maybe Kabalevsky (musically simpler than Haydn or Bach, though technically challenging). But ideally you'd get lessons, or at least support from a more advanced musician
February 28, 2018, 5:02 PM · PS: Mozart and Mendelssohn will be too hard in every dimension. Search the forum for "intermediate repertoire" and you'll find a treasure trove of suggestions.
Edited: February 28, 2018, 7:42 PM · I agree with Katie on all accounts. I am surprised your teacher would have you jump from Meditation and Czardas to Mozart 5 or Mendelssohn. Kabalevsky is technically hardest of the four that Katie mentioned, and since the first movement is fast, it'll also be harder to sync with orchestra. The Haydn or the Bach will be lovely with orchestra, and the Bach will be fine with string orchestra, although you might want to find a digital keyboard and a pianist so that you can have the harpsichord part. Playing a concerto with orchestra is hard if you have not done it before, so you want something you can play at a 200% level. If the Haydn seems too easy, you can torque that up by inserting a more challenging cadenza. But the usual Kuechler cadenza is charming and short, nothing wrong with it.
February 28, 2018, 8:27 PM · Mozart and Mendelssohn are much too difficult for you, even if you had a teacher.

(if there's any way for you to get a teacher, or even just some coaching, that would be a very good idea)

Katie's suggestions are good although I would avoid Accolay if this is going to be performed with orchestra. Bach a minor or Kabalevsky would be my choice for you.

March 1, 2018, 1:42 AM · Another one for Kabalevsky
March 1, 2018, 9:31 AM · Haydn wrote a beautiful concerto in A major that is rarely played.
Edited: March 1, 2018, 12:21 PM · Much overlooked and rarely heard, Mozart's Concerto No. 2 is worth looking at.
Also some of the Viotti concertos - I think #23 - really beautiful!

I messed up. I meant #22 Perlman recorded it for CD: Concertos From My Childhood - Itzhak Perlman

Edited: March 1, 2018, 11:29 AM · I second the recommendation of Viotti 23. Apart from a few easy Vivaldi concertos, that was the first "real" concerto I learned back in my youth. It can bear a little bit of sloppiness which is good for a competition. At some point you should really take on the Bach A minor, but this needs to be really clean with a good tone, and it really exposes your weaknesses, so work on it outside of the competition. If you want to improve without a teacher, and you are a studious type, I mean someone who can learn from books, please get the book "The Violin Lesson" by Simon Fischer. It is expensive but it will probably open up a whole new world for you.
March 1, 2018, 11:35 AM · I second (and "third") Jean's recommendation of that book by Simon Fischer.
I KNOW that even 100 years from now it will be the OUTSTANDING tutorial book on all aspects of violin playing.

Keep an eye on it until then - and let me know if I'm wrong!

March 1, 2018, 11:38 AM · For a concerto competition of this sort, pick music where the parts are readily obtainable for free, the conductor probably already knows the score, the music is easily learned by the orchestra, and it's easy to accompany.

March 1, 2018, 11:42 AM · As usual Lydia gives the most useful advice!!
March 1, 2018, 3:04 PM · Hugs for Jean. :-)

Note that this eliminates Kabalevsky, which would require part rental. That's potentially pricey, and may not be in the budget for a public school (and a private school might have qualms).

If you're interested in doing Kabalevsky, talk to the conductor first about whether or not it's allowable. Better to find out now.

March 1, 2018, 6:21 PM · I'm sure Lydia's right. Somehow the part about concerto competition didn't sink in. What comes easily to you? How is your bow arm? I still think Haydn (G major, not C major) has a lot to recommend it: easy key (not as easy as A minor), pretty straightforward to play and not too tough for the orchestra either. Easier than Mozart to pull together. Whatever you tackle needs to be well within your technical grasp so that you can focus on the details that make it sing. Are you learning just a movement or the whole thing? (In my youth orchestra days we were limited to a movement.)
Edited: March 1, 2018, 9:05 PM · Chances are much better that the orchestra parts will be available for Haydn, Mozart, and Bach concertos. If you think you can convince your orchestra director to let you play a *whole* concerto then frankly I recommend Bach A Minor because it's not super long. And the second movement is sublime.

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