Accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Maxim Vengerov performs Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius. Conductor: Daniel Barenboim.

Sibelius Violin Concerto – Maxim Vengerov, Daniel Barenboim, Chicago S.O. (CSO)

Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto

Sibelius originally dedicated his violin concerto to the noted violinist Willy Burmester, who promised to play the concerto in Berlin. For financial reasons, however, Sibelius decided to premiere it in Helsinki, and since Burmester was unavailable to travel to Finland, Sibelius engaged Victor Nováček (1873-1914), a Hungarian violin pedagogue of Czech origin who was then teaching at the Helsinki Institute of Music (now the Sibelius Academy).

This is the only concerto that the Finnish composer wrote. It is written in 1904 and scored for solo violin, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings. Traditionally, the work is in three movements:

  1. Allegro moderato (with many tempo changes throughout) in D minor, in 2/2 mostly, with some sections in 6/4 and 4/4 time The first movement, marked Allegro moderato, opens with a cushion of pianissimo strings pulsating gently. The soloist then enters with a characteristic IV-V-I phrase, in D minor G-A-D. The violin announces the theme and is briefly echoed by the clarinet, then continues into developmental material. More low woodwind and timpani accompany the soloist in several runs. Almost cadenza-like arpeggios and double stops and more runs are accompanied by more woodwind restatements of the theme. The strings then enter brazenly for the first time, announcing a second theme. Developmental material leads to a cadenza which then opens into the recapitulation. The ‘Allegro molto vivace’ coda ends with restatements of past themes.
  2. Adagio di molto in B-flat major and in 4/4 time The second movement (‘Adagio di molto’) is very lyrical. A short introduction by clarinets and oboes leads into a singing solo part (on the G string) over pizzicato strings. Dissonant accompaniments by the brass dominate the first part of the song-like movement. The middle section has the solo violin playing ascending broken octaves, with the flute as the main voice of the accompaniment, playing descending notes simultaneously.
  3. Allegro, ma non tanto in D major and in 3/4 time It opens with four bars of rhythmic percussion, with the lower strings playing ‘eighth note ‒ sixteenth note ‒ sixteenth note’ figures. The violin boldly enters with the first theme on the G string. This first section offers a complete and brilliant display of violin gymnastics with up-bow staccato double-stops and a run with rapid string-crossing, then octaves, that leads into the first tutti. The second theme is taken up by the orchestra and is almost a waltz; the violin takes up the same theme in variations, with arpeggios and double-stops. Another short section concluding with a run of octaves makes a bridge into a recapitulation of the first theme. Clarinet and low brass introduce the final section. A passage of harmonics in the violin precedes a sardonic passage of chords and slurred double stops. A passage of broken octaves leads to an incredibly heroic few lines of double stops and soaring octaves. A brief orchestral tutti comes before the violin leads things to the finish with a D major scale-up, returning down in flatted super-tonic (then repeated). A flourish of ascending slur-separate sixteenth notes, punctuated by a resolute D from the violin and orchestra concludes the concerto.

Maxim Alexandrovich Vengerov (Born: August 20, 1974, in Novosibirsk) is a violinist, violist, and conductor who was born in the Soviet Union. Since 2005, Vengerov has held the position of Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London (as of February 2015).

Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius in 1918. The picture was taken shortly after Sibelius had suffered from the food shortages during the Finnish Civil War of that year. Photo: Wikipedia

Sources

M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, an ex-road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. Please consider supporting me on Patreon.

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