Contemporary violin concertos or sonatas you love

October 12, 2020, 12:26 PM · By "contemporary", I suggest ones made by composers who are still actively composing (or perhaps might have been). An alternative definition might be composed during the lifetime of a current violin soloist (read: not very old).

By "concerto" I mean the standard form and any new variations that might have arisen but feature a significant violin solo. Similarly for "sonata".

The point would be to identify works you enjoy that might not be well-known or frequently performed. Identifying specific recordings might be useful.

Thanks in advance for any contributions.

Replies (22)

Edited: October 13, 2020, 2:59 AM · I very much enjoy John Adams's concerto in Chloe Hanslip's performance. I haven't heard any others
October 13, 2020, 3:27 AM · I must admit I know very little contemporary music, I'd like to discover more, and I already read a book so that I more or less know which names to look out for, but lack the time currently to really go after it. Just some well-known stuff: I love the violin concerto by Philip Glass, and The Four Seasons recomposed by Max Richter, although the latter is certainly not better than the Vivaldi original. It basically just substitutes in some repetitive material! In Belgium the violin concerto by Jeroen D'hoe is "world famous". With me personally it doesn't really strike a chord, but people may want to check it out.
Edited: October 13, 2020, 2:21 PM · Contemporary, music and love are three words that don't go together.
October 13, 2020, 7:42 AM · The future of contemporary music looks grim!
October 13, 2020, 8:18 AM · Contemporary classical music is really an oxymoron. I'll be a devil's advocate: Is it naïve to think that it really can be added to? Perhaps we have to face that Classical music is, well, classical.
October 13, 2020, 8:47 AM · The Fiddle Concerto by Mark O'Connor (enjoyed, didn't love)
The violin concerto by Wynton Marsalis (like very much, almost loved).
The violin concerto by John Adams (enjoyed, might learn to love)

One approach to this would be to look at any standard list of violin concertos (see link) and then start picking off the ones composed within the last, say 30 years, and then crossing off any if the composer happens to have died (since having a living composer is one of your criteria) and then looking for YouTube or other performances to determine your own level of "love" for the pieces.

Three violin concertos by Lera Auerbach.
Two violin concertos by Kalevi Aho.

And that was what I found after looking at the A's for less than one minute.

"Classical" music is not dead. The twelve-tone crowd tried to kill it but failed.

October 13, 2020, 10:46 AM · Ligeti violin concerto is very interesting! I am a big fan of Patricia Kopatchinskaja's relatively recent recording
October 13, 2020, 11:56 AM · Esa-Pekka's violin concerto is very stimulating-- heard it twice, once in Boston and then in LA.

And I just discovered a composer at Berklee named Francine Trester who was trained in violin, and has an interesting voice. A fair bit of solo violin and violin chamber music on her list.

John Harbison is a local favorite here in Boston, although I don't know if he has done a violin concerto as such. He writes well for violin-- in part because his violinist wife would probably let him know when he is doing it badly.

Edited: October 14, 2020, 7:48 AM · I have to agree with Paul - Marsalis's violin concerto is one of the most unique and fun concertos in recent memory and one I'd love to play myself, unlike many of its contemporaries...
October 13, 2020, 6:08 PM · I’m learning George Delerue’s Concerto L’Adieu, which was featured in the film Dien Bien Phu (1992). Very melodic. A contemporary composer, Toshi Ichiyanagi, has written quite a bit for the violin. Definitely worth checking out.
October 13, 2020, 7:02 PM · Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's violin concerto is probably my current favorite by a living composer.
October 13, 2020, 7:54 PM · Peteris Vasks - Concerto 'Distant Light' (I like)
Aleksey Igudesman - Sonata no.2 (I love)
October 14, 2020, 7:35 AM · This thread is becoming interesting, keep it coming!
October 14, 2020, 7:56 AM · Probably the Penderecki no.2 "Metamorphose" and "In Tempus Praesens" by Sofia Gubaidulina for me.
October 15, 2020, 12:38 AM · "Ligeti violin concerto is very interesting! I am a big fan of Patricia Kopatchinskaja's relatively recent recording"

At least this part/performance is a hoot:

Edited: October 17, 2020, 3:55 PM · "Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's violin concerto is probably my current favorite by a living composer."

Thank you for the mention Andrew, I enjoyed it very much.

Here's a link to a recording with Pamela Frank.

And some words from the composer on it:

"My new Violin Concerto is a very personal and deeply felt contemporary response to the instrument I have been closest to throughout my musical life. Perhaps that's why I found the experience of writing my concerto at once a challenge and a labor of love. I was especially happy to be writing for the prodigiously musical Pamela Frank. In a world that often celebrates virtuosity for its own sake, Pam's immersion in profound musical values celebrates the deeper meanings of music. My first goal in beginning a concerto is to try to internalize the "karma" of the solo instrument, believing, as I do, that the soul of the instrument should guide the nature of the piece. (In fact, each of my 12 concertos has a different form and instrumentation, because each is inspired by the special nature of the solo instruments.) For me, the soul of the violin shines through in the repertoire it has inspired, revealing a nature both sensuous and intellectual. While the tremendous athleticism of the violin can sometimes overshadow its deeper nature, the violin has shown itself capable of expressing the most profound aspects of music. And this is what drew me, as a young composer to the violin."

(One shouldn't be misled by the "young composer" reference.)

October 18, 2020, 2:08 PM · Check out the work of Polina Nazaykinskaya!

Edited: October 19, 2020, 2:43 AM · That's hardly a concerto or a sonata. I think I could have written it! Zwilich's concerto is another matter but isn't it a bit bland and derivative? I get the feeling I've heard it all before. Ligeti I'm afraid doesn't count (sad face).
October 19, 2020, 2:38 AM · Adam and Knussen's violin concertos
October 20, 2020, 1:40 PM · "isn't it a bit bland and derivative?"

I didn't find it bland. Besides, that and pretty much everything else about music is subjective.

Regarding "derivative" - is that how we got into the mess of contemporary music being something nobody would remember or know if it's being played correctly? (Granting however that more microtonal work could be a real blessing - that way nobody would know if we're playing in tune.)

October 21, 2020, 6:45 PM · Aaron Jay Kernis wrote a violin concerto that James Ehnes plays the heck out of. I really love it.
October 24, 2020, 8:27 PM · "Contemporary, music and love are three words that don't go together."

I don't necessarily agree, and the suggestions here are certainly appreciated, but just now my son did ask me to listen to something that would "help his mental state" instead of having the opposite effect.

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