Accompanied by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Maxim Vengerov performs Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. Conductor: Marios Papadopoulos. This performance was recorded at the Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford, England) in December 2014.

Accompanied by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Maxim Vengerov performs Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. Conductor: Marios Papadopoulos. This performance was recorded at the Sheldonian Theatre (Oxford, England) in December 2014.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, is one of the most beloved and frequently performed works in the violin repertoire. Composed in 1878, it was Tchaikovsky’s only violin concerto and has since become a cornerstone of violin literature. The concerto was written during a period of recovery for Tchaikovsky, following his disastrous marriage and subsequent emotional turmoil. He found solace in composing this concerto while staying in the idyllic surroundings of Lake Geneva.

The work is known for its lyrical beauty, technical brilliance, and emotional depth. It showcases Tchaikovsky’s gift for melody and his ability to write music that is both technically challenging and deeply expressive. The concerto was originally dedicated to Leopold Auer, a prominent violinist of the time, but he initially deemed it unplayable due to its technical demands. It was later premiered by the Russian violinist Adolph Brodsky in Vienna on December 4, 1881, to mixed reviews. Despite its rocky start, the concerto gradually gained popularity and has become a staple of the violin repertoire.

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is celebrated for its sweeping melodies and rich orchestration. The solo violin part is virtuosic, requiring the performer to navigate intricate passages, soaring high notes, and rapid sequences with precision and expressiveness. The interplay between the soloist and the orchestra is dynamic and engaging, with the violin often taking center stage but also blending seamlessly with the orchestral textures.

The concerto’s emotional range is vast, moving from moments of intense passion to lyrical introspection. Tchaikovsky’s use of folk-like melodies and rhythms adds a distinctive Russian flavor to the work, further enhancing its appeal. The piece’s enduring popularity is a testament to its masterful combination of technical prowess and emotional resonance, making it a favorite among violinists and audiences alike.


1. Allegro moderato

The first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, marked Allegro moderato, begins with an orchestral introduction that sets the stage with a broad, lyrical theme. This opening is both majestic and expansive, immediately drawing the listener into the concerto’s rich sound world. The solo violin enters with a brief, virtuosic flourish before introducing the main theme, which is characterized by its sweeping, song-like quality.

This main theme is developed with intricate and demanding violin passages, showcasing the soloist’s technical prowess. Tchaikovsky masterfully interweaves the solo violin with the orchestra, creating a dynamic dialogue between the two. The interplay is marked by the contrast between the lyrical, expressive melodies and the brilliant, rapid passages that challenge the soloist’s agility and precision.

A notable feature of this movement is the use of double stops and fast runs, which add to the technical demands on the violinist. The second theme, introduced by the soloist, is more lyrical and serene, providing a contrast to the bold and energetic first theme. This theme is presented with warmth and tenderness, further highlighting Tchaikovsky’s melodic gift.

The development section explores the themes in various keys, with the solo violin engaging in virtuosic displays and the orchestra providing a rich harmonic backdrop. The music builds in intensity, leading to a dramatic and spirited cadenza. Traditionally, the cadenza is an opportunity for the soloist to display their virtuosity, and Tchaikovsky’s cadenza is both technically demanding and musically compelling.

After the cadenza, the recapitulation brings back the main themes with renewed energy and vigor. The movement concludes with a lively coda, where the soloist and orchestra come together in a jubilant and triumphant finish. This first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is a masterful blend of lyrical beauty, technical brilliance, and emotional depth, setting the stage for the rest of the concerto.

2. Canzonetta: Andante

The second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is marked Canzonetta: Andante. This movement serves as a lyrical and introspective interlude between the more vigorous outer movements. The term “Canzonetta” suggests a small, song-like piece, and this movement fully embodies that description with its delicate and expressive character.

The movement opens with a gentle, melancholic melody introduced by the solo violin, accompanied by a soft, muted orchestral background. This theme is lyrical and haunting, creating a sense of intimacy and reflection. The violin sings with a vocal quality, showcasing Tchaikovsky’s ability to write melodies that are both simple and deeply emotional.

As the movement progresses, the solo violin explores variations on the initial theme, with subtle shifts in dynamics and articulation that enhance the expressive depth of the music. The orchestration remains light and supportive, allowing the violin to remain the focal point throughout the movement.

A contrasting middle section introduces a slightly more animated theme, providing a momentary change in mood. However, this section is still infused with a gentle, lyrical quality, maintaining the overall introspective nature of the movement. The interplay between the soloist and the orchestra is delicate and balanced, with the violin often weaving in and out of the orchestral texture.

The movement concludes with a return to the opening theme, bringing a sense of closure and unity. The final phrases are tender and poignant, with the solo violin fading into a soft orchestral accompaniment, leaving a lingering sense of calm and introspection.

The Canzonetta: Andante movement is a beautiful showcase of Tchaikovsky’s melodic gift and his ability to convey deep emotion through simple, yet profoundly expressive music. It provides a moment of serene reflection within the concerto, allowing both the soloist and the audience to savor the lyrical beauty of Tchaikovsky’s writing.

3. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo

The third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, marked Allegro vivacissimo, brings the concerto to a thrilling and exuberant conclusion. This movement is characterized by its lively tempo, rhythmic vitality, and spirited interplay between the solo violin and the orchestra.

The movement begins with an energetic and rhythmic main theme introduced by the solo violin. This theme is robust and dance-like, immediately grabbing the listener’s attention with its boldness and vitality. The soloist’s part is filled with rapid passages, intricate bowing techniques, and dazzling virtuosity, showcasing the technical brilliance of the violin.

The first theme is followed by a contrasting second theme, which is more lyrical and graceful. This theme provides a moment of respite from the high energy of the opening, allowing for a beautiful interplay between the violin and the orchestra. The melody is sweeping and expressive, highlighting Tchaikovsky’s gift for creating memorable and emotionally resonant themes.

As the movement progresses, Tchaikovsky masterfully alternates between energetic and lyrical themes, creating a dynamic and engaging musical narrative. The development section further explores these themes, with the solo violin navigating through a series of technically demanding variations and rapid arpeggios. The music often shifts between major and minor keys, adding to the excitement and unpredictability of the movement.

A highlight of the third movement is the cadenza, where the soloist has the opportunity to display their virtuosity in an unaccompanied passage. This section is filled with technical challenges, including double stops, fast runs, and complex rhythms, all executed with flair and precision by the violinist.

The movement concludes with a recapitulation of the main themes, leading into a jubilant and triumphant coda. The final passages are marked by their exuberance and energy, as the soloist and orchestra come together in a celebratory finish. The rapid, dance-like rhythms and the brilliant interplay between the soloist and the orchestra create a sense of joyous exuberance, bringing the concerto to an exhilarating and satisfying conclusion.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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