Misha Keylin: Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto 3, Dennis Burkh

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Performed by Misha Keylin. Conducted by Dennis Burkh with the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra.

I. Allegro - 00:00
II. Adagio - 20:09
III. Rondo - 24:49

English: Belgian violinist and composer Henry ...
Belgian violinist and composer Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) by Marie-Alexandre Alophe (1812-1883). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Henry Vieuxtemps was born in 1820 in Verviers, not far from Liège, a district of Belgium that was fertile ground for violinists. He had his first lessons from his father, a weaver and amateur violin-maker and player, followed by study with Lecloux-Dejonc, a teacher who won praise from Eugène Ysaÿe, whose own younger brother, the pianist Théophile Gautier, was born in Verviers. Vieuxtemps made his first public appearance as a violinist at the age of six, playing a concerto by Rode and the following year embarking on a concert tour of neighbouring cities with his teacher. In 1828 he was heard in Brussels by Charles de Bériot, who accepted him as a pupil. In the following years, now in the absence of de Bériot, he continued to perfect his technique and broaden his musical tastes, assisted in the latter task by his teacher's sister-in-law, Pauline Garcia, later Pauline Viardot, then a pupil of Liszt. Concerts throughout Germany and in Vienna won him an increasing reputation, leading Schumann, in Leipzig, to compare him to Paganini, whom Vieuxtemps met and heard in London in 1834.

Vieuxtemps made his first visit to Russia in 1837, returning in the following years. It was in Russia that he wrote the Concerto No. 1 in E major, published as Opus 10, a work he introduced to Paris audiences in 1841, to the admiration of musicians and critics, including Wagner and Berlioz. In 1843 and 1844 he toured America and in the summer of the latter year, during a holiday at Cannstadt, near Stuttgart, he wrote his Concerto No. 3 in A major, Opus 25, a work later described by Ysaÿe as a great poem rather than a concerto, influenced, he went on to suggest, by Beethoven's Violin Concerto, a work that Vieuxtemps had revived in Vienna in 1834, seven years after its composer's death, and was to play again there eight years later, in 1842.

There is a dramatic opening to the orchestral exposition, with which the concerto opens, later introducing a secondary theme marked Canto. The soloist enters with the descending dotted rhythmic figure heard at the beginning of the work in simpler form and this is expanded and extended with opportunities for virtuoso display, before the gently expressive second theme, played largely on the G string. Forceful intervention by the orchestra allows a modulation to the unexpected key of C minor, where the first solo subject is heard again, once more over a tremolo accompaniment. The original key is restored and the final section of the movement also allows the timpani a moment of glory, a reminiscence, perhaps, of the rôle played by the instruments in Beethoven's concerto. The aria of the C major Adagio provides immediate contrast, increasing in strength and intensity, as the music rises, but ending at peace. The Rondo starts in A minor with a theme marked, characteristically for this concerto, con delicatezza. Contrast of major and minor keys and of dramatic intensity and lyricism continue in a movement that allows relatively unintrusive display. The technical demands, as always, are considerable, but often encompass moments of great delicacy.