Concerts programs

October 12, 2019, 5:02 PM · Hello,
I was just thinking, and I asked myself a question:
-How do we make concert program?
My question may be unclear, but for example , my concert program is:
-Violin Concerto
-Sonata for violin and piano
-Bach 's mov from son. and partitas.(usually Gavotte, allemanda 1&2, chaconne , and sometimes the prelude)
I'm usually playing a hard piece(Brahms& Schumann sonatas, Well-known concertos, Bach chaconne)and playing an easy piece(Vivaldi concertos, allemanda, or harder: Schubert sonatina, Schubert trio, which is hard)

Replies (16)

October 12, 2019, 9:14 PM · Today, the convention is that violin concertos are never played on a public recital, with the exception of specifically pedagogical recitals in a school context.

The common professional format these days seems to be two sonatas as the "advertised" program, but with a second half of bonbons -- audience-pleasing, often virtuosic short works.

Constructing a recital around a theme seems to be a useful alternative idea. I think no matter what there's generally one substantive collaborative work -- usually a sonata -- and then the rest of the time can be bonbons.

October 12, 2019, 10:07 PM · While I agree with Lydia about current professional convention, one does kind of wonder what the rationale is and whether it's really justified.

I think ordinary concert-goers (likely to be mostly your friends, family, fellow students) are not offended by concertos played with piano reductions. If that's what you've got that showcases your best playing, then I say play it. You'd want to practice your concertos with piano anyway to prepare them for performance with orchestra, so if you're going to pay your pianist for four or five rehearsals you might as well get a recital out of it too.

The thing about SOME concertos (Mozart 3 for example) is that the second movement can be VERY LONG, and with piano accompaniment the lower level of musical interest could lead to some audience fatigue. But other concertos do not suffer quite so much in this regard (Kabalevsky, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski).

Edited: October 13, 2019, 1:44 AM · I didn't know that it isn't good to put violin concerto with piano reduction.
Is Beethoven's two romances with a piano reduction is good, or it is too Boring for the audience?
October 13, 2019, 2:37 AM · I think the Romances would be fine as they're not classified as "concertos"
October 13, 2019, 8:59 AM · The Romances are great on recital programs. I don't know that I'd necessarily want to program both of them. Recitals tend to benefit from more variety.

I think to some degree what you program on a recital depends on context. If you're playing a pro recital or a pro-style public recital, you're going to program differently than if you're doing a student recital for conservatory juries, or doing a recital of your audition program for a friends/family audience, or otherwise doing something where your audience is only people you know.

October 14, 2019, 10:21 PM · I disagree with Paul: There are sound reasons not to play concertos with piano in performance.

On the one hand a piano can not credibly substitute an orchestra, especially for romantic works with big orchestras. In classical concertos on the he other hand there is usually a long, sometimes very long, orchestral introduction (think Viotti a-minor!). In performances with piano these introductions are usually cut to a minimum which throws the entire work off kilter.

Edited: October 15, 2019, 7:36 PM · Albrecht wrote, "A piano can not credibly substitute an orchestra, especially for romantic works with big orchestras."

I agree that it works better for stuff like Mozart 3 and Viotti 22. The extent to which the substitution is credible depends on the listening experience of the audience. Do they know that there's a long allegro introduction before the adagio in Mozart 5? Certainly the character of the piece is changed if you start with the adagio.

And if they are coming to hear a young person (especially a friend or relative) play the violin, they will probably appreciate the violinist not being drowned out by the orchestra and they will appreciate not having to sit through other purely orchestral works just to hear their friend/relative play one piece.

"In classical concertos on the he other hand there is usually a long, sometimes very long, orchestral introduction (think Viotti a-minor!)."

Yes it's very long with Vieuxtemps 4 also. In my opinion the introductions can be artfully cut without losing much. Again, it really comes down to why the audience is there. If they're there to hear their friend/relative play the violin, cutting the tuttis in the reduction to the bone will be warmly appreciated.

If it is to be a violin recital with piano accompaniment, then let it be just that. If it is to be an orchestra concert featuring a soloist, then only one movement of Bach and only as an encore; choose wisely!

Both Beethoven romances on one program is too much unless the theme of the recital is "romances for the violin."

Edited: October 16, 2019, 6:11 AM · Hi,

One of the big reasons why concertos are not featured on recital programs is that pianists are considered nowadays to be collaborative musicians to the violinist, not accompanists.

Programs can either have a specific focus (such as a sonata cycle or cycle of works by a particular composer) or, feature a certain number of things. Typical varied programs will have a baroque or classical sonata, a romantic sonata, a 20th/21st century sonata or work and/or something unaccompanied or a showier work (like Tzigane). Sometimes, the second half will be filled with shorter works after the baroque/classical and romantic/20th century sonata of the first half.

Works that have an orchestral reduction are never included except in an educational setting where they are required. Therefore, the Beethoven Romances would never appear on a professional recital.


October 16, 2019, 8:40 AM · Again, if the recital is for your friends, relatives, and fellow students to come and hear YOU play the VIOLIN then hire a piano accompanist and play the pieces that you think put your VIOLIN playing in the best light. If it's a recital for you to impress a gaggle of academic music snobs, then don't play anything written for violin and orchestra (or violin and harpsichord for that matter).
October 16, 2019, 9:16 AM · Christian, I disagree about the things that have an orchestra reduction. Note that Tzigane, which was in your list of examples, is normally a work with orchestra (granted, Ravel wrote a piano accompaniment before he orchestrated it). The short Saint-Saens works do show up on professional recitals -- I&RC, Havanaise, etc. As do the Sarasate works with orchestra, like Zigeunerweisen (I am not sure if Sarasate also composed the piano reduction of the orchestral part, but he did record it with piano himself).

For whatever reason, the Beethoven Romances don't seem to get played on professional recitals, though. I've never seen one programmed by a touring soloist.

October 16, 2019, 9:25 AM · Anne-Sophie Mutter just performed the Romance in G at Carnegie Hall, I believe. It was programmed with an orchestra so therein lies the difference, perhaps?

I'm partial to the luthéal version of Tzigane. Not too many pianos fitted with a luthéal these days though.

Edited: October 16, 2019, 9:41 AM · If the original work with orchestra has a nice dialogue between soloist and orchestra, and the piano reduction is well done, and the pianist is good, then I don't see why a nice dialogue between soloist and pianist cannot ensue. The pianist playing a piano reduction is not necessarily reduced to a mere accompanist. I can see though how such prejudices are formed; the notion of "pianist-accompanist" got ingrained in professional musicians by doing many required recitals during their student years at conservatory, where the pianists are also students or teachers who "have to" do this in addition to their many other commitments. Then, finally, to end this rant, there are very fine pianists who have specialized in accompanying singers, e.g., Schubert or Mahler songs, and, while they are truly accompanists, they are still among the finest musicians around. So even if you are an accompanist, this is nothing to be ashamed of. In conclusion, the prejudices indicated by Christian, while existing, are not very well substantiated. To put it more in Paul's terminology, let's not let snobs tell us what to do and what not. (Easier said than done when you are financially dependent on these snobs.)
October 16, 2019, 10:08 AM · The fact that we're coming to different conclusions about the Beethoven Romances than we are about concerto movements tells me that the issue is really one that boils down to tradition. If history has taught us anything, it's that tradition is usually just about the stupidest and least defensible reason for doing anything.
October 16, 2019, 11:34 AM · However a professional recital that is 4 sonatas usually is a bore.
Edited: October 16, 2019, 12:27 PM · Hi,

Paul, this is my experience as a professional who plays a lot of recital/duo programs. You don't have to agree with it, but in the demands of colleagues and series, this is the trend these days.

Lydia, to answer your question, Tzigane's piano part was written by Ravel himself and later orchestrated. It's actually incredibly demanding for the pianist. Sarasate's works were written with piano parts and later orchestrated. Most collaborative pianists that I know are OK as long as the works are not for violin and orchestra with a piano reduction, or if there is a piano version by the composer himself (ex: Bartok's Rhapsodies).

Jean, these are not prejudices or even an opinion. They are simply the tendencies in programming on the professional circuit and an explanation of those tendencies.

I probably shouldn't have answered to begin with, but as a professional who does this throughout the year, this is the situation that I see/face and I thought that experience would be of help to the OP.


P.S. Having dealt with it firsthand over the last year, the piano vs harpsichord debate doesn't really apply as it depends on circumstances/requirements/technical possibilities. I have done the complete Bach sonatas many times over the last year+ with the same person on both instruments depending on venue.

October 16, 2019, 7:01 PM · Christian, on the contrary, you are thanked for having pitched in this discussion.

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