Seldom Performed Concertos That Deserve More Attention

December 11, 2022, 11:18 AM · I'm no longer attending concerts, regardless of the soloist, where the "usual suspects" (Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, etc.) are being served. But I'm happy to pay good money to hear neglected concertos or works from Conus, Ernst, Goldmark, Joachim, Rosza, Viotti #22, Bruch #2, Paganini #4, Vieuxtemps #4, Walton, Wieniawski #1. Any additional suggestions? Thank you.

Replies (33)

December 11, 2022, 11:24 AM · From my LP collection,
Conus: Perlman
Goldmark: Milstein
Joachim: Rosand
Viotti: Grumiaux
Bruch 2: Menuhin
Walton: Heifetz
December 11, 2022, 11:26 AM · Florence Price, but I must respectfully suggest that you are deliberately choosing to miss some artistically superb performances. Earlier this year I was privileged to be part of the Nashville Symphony’s performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with Augustin Hadelich, who turned a warhorse into a fresh, inspirational and extremely moving work of art.
December 11, 2022, 2:39 PM · There's some I'd definitely like to see more, but I'd say Milhaud 2, since I've never read a review or notice of it being programmed.
December 11, 2022, 3:01 PM · Nielsen, White, Harty, Coleridge-Taylor.
December 11, 2022, 5:08 PM · Korngold and Sibelius are not performed all that often. But, I agree with Mary Ellen on both her points. The Price concerto is superb. My community orch performed the first movement of it last year with our previous concertmistress, who is a professional, doing the solo part. Wonderful!

I also agree that by ruling out certain concertos, you can miss sensational and revealing performances. I can recall my father telling me about going to a performance of the Beethoven many many years ago where soloist Szymon Goldberg performed it using the urtext and how incredible that was. My wife and I saw Bell some years ago do the Beethoven with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and she was so moved that she recited a Jewish prayer, the Shehechianu which basically thanks G-d for enabling us to live to see that day. So, don't rule out the "usual suspects." You never know what you will experience.

Edited: December 11, 2022, 5:27 PM · My son just performed Arutiunian Concerto, which is lovely, but small in scope (violin and string orchestra) and almost completely unknown. Highly recommended.

I also suggest the Karlowicz Violin Concerto. I don't know why nobody plays it -- it is great!

You might also want to check out Skoryk. My daughter's friend (family from Ukraine) introduced us to some of his works. He has written a ton of violin concertos - at least nine.

December 11, 2022, 5:32 PM · I second the Karlowicz! It's clearly indebted to the Tchaikovsky VC, but it's really quite beautiful and stands on its own. I think it's better known in Europe than in the US.
December 11, 2022, 6:01 PM · Karlowicz - No. 8 in A major;

Joachim "Hungarian" is a desert island work for me;

Arensky Op. 54 (A minor) is totally charming and very programmatic;

Bruch 3 (d minor) is lengthy and rather epic...deserves more airings;

Saint-Saens 1 can be intriguing;

Jose White (F# minor) sounds deliciously like Wieniawski

Shostakovich 2 is bleak and desolate and effective.

Edited: December 11, 2022, 7:21 PM · Note that there are two concertos by Florence Price. They're both excellent. Note that the second of them is in just one movement, so it's unclear to me whether Tom's orchestra played the first movement of No. 1 or the entirety of No. 2.

My orchestra played No. 2 in 2019 with Er-Gene Kahng, the same violinist who made the first recording of both concertos and edited them for publication.

December 12, 2022, 2:29 AM · My additional suggestion is that you wean yourself off violin concertos and explore some other aspect of the classical repertoire.
December 12, 2022, 4:22 AM · The Britten Concerto is quite special when done with care.

A good new one that has made the rounds recently is Esa-Pekka Salonen's.

December 12, 2022, 6:01 AM · Steve - yes, I agree: explore wider repertoire. Stephen, also full agreement: the Britten concerto is wonderful.

There have been similar threads from time to time here, and I know I've mentioned it before but am happy to do so again: there is an attractive romantic concerto by Jesús de Monasterio.

Edited: December 12, 2022, 10:28 AM · Write your own like Alma Deutscher. Of course you'd have to turn back the clock so that you could be NINE YEARS OLD first.
Edited: December 12, 2022, 10:45 AM · I appreciate all the responses submitted so far, though some are off track. My question did not refer to what my personal tastes are, but rather which neglected works ought to be performed more often. You all know there's a ton of valuable violin literature (not just concertos) that is relatively unknown to the general public because the typical war horses hog up the limelight. Perhaps it's a question of economics and risk. Orchestras will sell more tickets if they program perennial favorites like the Tchaikovsky concerto rather than risk it with the Goldmark. Or maybe the Goldmark isn't on the repertoire menu list that most violin soloists offer. For the record, I will pay good money to hear Augustin Hadelich play ANYTHING - including Hot Cross Buns! He did perform the Prokofiev Cto #2 with my local orchestra (The Florida Orchestra) last year and I joyfully sat in the front row. I'd love to hear him come back and play Prokofiev #1, another one of my favorite works that seldom gets air time (at least here in Florida).
December 12, 2022, 11:32 AM · The intention is surely not to dethrone the great five, the quadriga-plus-one**, violin concertos. But yes, it would be nice to hear a wider range of VCs programmed. That’s an idea for concert season planners. Two of my local symphony orchestras have thematic elements built into each season’s programme. An exploration of the ‘hidden’ violin concerto repertoire would be an excellent guiding theme.

**Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius.

December 12, 2022, 12:50 PM · Elgar, Dvorak, Glazunov, Bartok, Szymanowski, Berg - you might as well list every other VC by every composer you've heard of and a few that you haven't. It's worth remembering that although provincial concert halls may be obliged to stick to the core repertoire we're blessed with electronic access to a far greater variety of music than any bygone age.
Edited: December 12, 2022, 1:47 PM · True Steve, But I wasn’t referencing a provincial concert hall, and in any case there is still the primacy of the live performance, which would bring enhanced attentive listening to those concertos that receive less frequent performances. Incidentally, here I have attended live performances two or three times of the Britten and Berg concertos over a number of years. I think both of those...challenging works for listeners...are more readily grasped from a live performance.
Edited: December 12, 2022, 2:28 PM · The Colorado Symphony is doing Szymanowski 1 in January, with the solo part being played by their concertmaster, Yumi Hwang Williams, so I am satisfied at their excellent programming choice.
December 13, 2022, 12:28 AM · Novelty is good. I remember one of my teachers saying that he was getting completely sick of the Dvorak, because pretty much every audition they were getting was using that. But when someone walked in with one of the Szymanowski concerti, that got the committee noticeably perked up.
December 13, 2022, 2:41 AM · The last amateur orchestra I belonged to finally decided it couldn't afford to program unfamiliar repertoire for fear of emptying seats. Maybe that isn't everyone's experience but it does seem to be a governing principle for most British orchestras.
December 14, 2022, 9:15 AM · With the exception of Kreisler, the work of most forgers is dropped when the fraud is strongly suspected. But the Handel-Casadesus viola concerto, for instance, has no less going for it now than it did when it was accepted as authentic Handel.
December 14, 2022, 2:29 PM · During the shutdown I worked on the Castelnuovo-Tedesco "Prophets" concerto, and managed to get the 2nd movement up to performance-ready status, which won't happen. It is very difficult, designed for and dedicated to Heifetz. I first heard it as the B-side to his recording of the Walton concerto, which I don't like.
A lot of low budget orchestras either cannot afford or can't acquire many of the concertos that are under copyright and royalty protection. Those intending to do a concerto with their local community orchestra need to talk to the conductor, the librarian, and the treasurer.
Community orchestras in a metropolitan area that has a fully professional orchestra should consider doing these less famous pieces.
I just received in the mail the solo part for Piazolla 4 Seasons.; - not expensive.
December 15, 2022, 9:46 AM · Erno Dohnányi's 1st violin concerto is pretty amazing, but no one plays it...
December 15, 2022, 12:39 PM · I consider the Saint-Saens concerti to be pretty underrated, though Saint-Saens isn't a lessor known composer by any means. I am currently playing the third movement of the third concerto - it's a fun one! And fabulous orchestra interludes as well :)
December 15, 2022, 6:12 PM · Yes! I've yet to attend a live performance of Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto #3.
Edited: December 27, 2022, 11:16 PM · I've heard a whole bunch of concertos as a member of the orchestra, but the violin concertos I've heard in my life as an audience member are extremely limited: Tchaikovsky 6 times, Sibelius 3 times, Khachaturian once. And this, despite the fact that I actively dislike the Tchaikovsky and seeing it on the program makes me less likely to attend the concert, not more! Somehow it just keeps getting programmed with symphonies that I want to hear.

Edited: December 28, 2022, 11:45 AM · I haven't heard Hindemith's violin concerto live. Not sure why that piece isn't programmed more (along with his string quartets). I was just sight reading his elementary violin duets and they're wonderful!

Two other pieces I would like to hear in the concert hall are the Vivaldi A minor concerto and his B minor concerto for four violins.

Robert Schumann's violin arrangment of his cello concerto is worth hearing more too.

December 28, 2022, 12:56 PM · Add these to the list: Spohr- Violin Concerto No. 8 in A minor "Im Form einer Gesangsszene"; Vieuxtemps- Violin Concerto No. 5 In A minor, Op. 37; finally, though this last addition is an operatic fantasy, Wieniawski- Fantasia on Themes from Gounod's Faust, Op. 20
December 29, 2022, 6:34 PM · Sorry, but I can't stomach Spohr's Violin Concerto No. 8 nor Schumann's Violin Concerto.
December 30, 2022, 9:13 PM · I haven’t listened to Spohr’s concertos but I’m pretty impressed with his chamber music. Interestingly he wrote some sonatas violin and harp, which is a great combination. It’s tough to find a harpist though.

I would Ike to hear a recording or live performance of Georges Delerue’s violin concerto. I believed it was composed in the 1980’s and premiered by an orchestra in New Jersey. Delerue also write a single movement concerto used for the 1992 film Diên Biên Phú. I learned that piece this past year and it’s good piece for a advancing violin student, a student concerto I suppose and a sophisticated one at that.

December 31, 2022, 12:56 AM · I heard the George Dyson violin concerto on the radio today and enjoyed it immensely.
December 31, 2022, 2:03 AM · A Youtuber I subscribe to posted a score for the Dyson concerto a while ago. I assume it was the same recording. It's quite an awesome piece.
Edited: December 31, 2022, 2:37 AM · I'm surprised the concerto by John Adams doesn't feature more often in concert programmes. Just too many notes to memorise confidently?

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