|VVCD - 00098
Маx Bruch Violin Concerto No.1
Niccolo Paganini Violin Concerto No.1
Pablo de Sarasate Zigeunerweisen. Introduction and Tarantella
Andrei Korsakov, violin
The most famous virtuoso who opened a
new era in the art of playing violin and viola; a legend, an angel,
a demon and the public's idol… Such is Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840).
His life is a whimsical succession of triumphs (his first one enjoyed
at the age of 13) and disappointments, of the global fame and life-long
and posthumous restless travels: Paganini died in Nice without taking
the last communion, and therefore, the bishop of Nice Domenico Galvano
prohibited to bury him (only in 1896 Paganini's remains found their
Paganini is the walking symbol of the Romantic artist: in this sense,
his personality and his work attracted the attention of both his
contemporaries (Schumann and Liszt) and the composers of subsequent
generations (Brahms, Rachmaninov, Lutoslawski).
The story of the Paganini's creative heritage is also a mix of triumph
and tragedy. His name was immortalized by his caprices; yet, his
many other works were not published during the author's lifetime.
Among them is Concerto for violin no. 1, in D major, op. 6, a piece
in three movements, that was composed in 1817-1818 during his concert
tour over Italy and published, along with his other works, only
in 1851. In this Concerto, the musical Baroque and Classicism, as
it were, reach out towards Romanticism. The slow movement - a synthesis
of Romanticism and the high Baroque poetics - is framed with Allegro
and the Finale, classically clear in coloring.
"Even in Germany where everybody has learned
so well the craft and has the perfect command of it, a composer
of the truly good music is quite a rare thing. Max Bruch was destined
to be among those few, and he has every right to be proud of it"
(Camille Saint-Saens). A winner of the Mozart Scholarship, Ferdinand
Giller and Carl Reineke's pupil, Musikdirektor and artistic director
of a number of orchestras and musical institutions (especially,
the Composition Department of the Higher Music School in Berlin
in 1893-1910), Max Bruch (1838-1920) was best known to his contemporaries
and posterior admirers as the author of symphonies, operas, oratorios,
and other works for choir and orchestra. However, time has revised
Bruch's standing: today, he is mostly famous for his concertos.
His Variations for cello and orchestra, Kol Nidrei (1881) is a unique
example of a concerto composition based on a fragment from a prayer
recited in the synagogues around the world, on Yom Kippur (the Doomsday),
the main Jewish holiday. The Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra
(1880) is Bruch's another most popular piece.
However, for millions of his listeners, Bruch is, primarily, the
author of Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26 (1868). The first
of his three pieces in this genre, Concerto in G minor can compete
in popularity with the world's symphonic hits like the concertos
of Mendelsohn (in E-minor), Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and
Sibelius. Bruch's piece is inseparable from the tradition of the
Romantic violin concerto. He is close to Mendelsohn in his development
of the main theme (in both cases, the Romantic image is being "captured"
at the climatic moment); an absolute domination of the violin makes
him akin to Paganini, whereas the atmosphere of Viennese-Slavonic
dancing brings him near to Brahms (compare the finales of the violin
concertos by the two composers).
Bruch's Concerto is an exceptional version of the Romantic poem
form. Formally in three movements, it is rather a two-movement piece.
Adagio (the second movement) grows out of the subsidiary part in
the reprise Allegro moderato (the first movement). Such blending
was determined by the very nature of the Concerto's main theme,
where three formal models are mingled: the introduction (the orchestra's
strict chords, somewhat in the manner of Joseph Haydn), the cadences
(the violin's responsive recitative passages) and the slow part.
In the Finale the dramatic conflict vanishes away, miraculously
dissolving into the elemental joy.
"The fin-de-siecle Paganini", in the words
of Eugene Ysaye, "who taught us to play clearly", Pablo
de Sarasate (1844-1908) was one of the greatest concert violinists
in the musical history. The scope of his public appearances was
stunning: Europe, Asia, North and South America; the most prominent
conductors and players of the second half of the 19th century were
his partners in concerts. Sarasate's immense repertoire included,
besides the classics like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, pieces by
his contemporaries whose work the great Spaniard promulgated. Among
those lucky ones, who owed to him the success of their violin compositions,
were Saint-Saens, Bruch, Lalo, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak.
Sarasate's original compositions are a continuation of his performing
technique. He composed mainly for violin with piano and violin with
orchestra. Among the latter, most remarkable are the pieces in loose
forms characteristic for the Romantic era - rhapsodies, fantasies
based on both his own and borrowed themes. Thus, in particular,
Introduction and Tarantella, op. 43., is a "sister" of
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso of Camille Saint-Saens. Like
Liszt, who authored many piano transcriptions, Sarasate had an aptitude
for fantasy potpourris based on the themes of operatic works by
Gounod (Faust, Romeo and Juliet), Bizet (Carmen), Mozart (Don Giovanni),
Verdi (The Force of the Destiny).
Gypsy Melodies ("Zigeunerweisen"), op. 20, - perhaps,
Sarasate's most celebrated work - was composed after the example
of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. Both Sarasate and Liszt's works
are rooted in the so-called Verbunkos style (Hung. Verbunkos - derived
from German Werbung - means "to draft into the army").
Verbunkos is not only a style of the Hungarian instrumental music,
but also a sequence of male dances (originally, the drafting campaign
in Hungary was accompanied by those dances). It is noteworthy that
this particular style is, above all, typical for the Hungarian gypsy
music. In Sarasate's Gypsy Melodies the essential feature of the
Verbunkos styles is reproduced, the contrast between slow and tuneful
(lassu or hallgato) and speedy (friss) melodies. The work's tonal
plan is quite unusual: the slow part in C minor is replaced with
the swift one, in A minor. Gypsy Melodies are the quintessential
expression of Sarasate's performing and composing style, with its
dazzling melodies and flashy virtuosity.
Andrei Korsakov (1946-1991), a prominent Soviet virtuoso violinist,
a graduate from the Moscow Conservatoire (under Profs. B. Belenkiy
and L. Kogan), a laureate of many international competitions in
Montreal, Genoa (the Paganini), Paris (the Marguerite Long-Jacques
Thibaud), Brussels (the Queen Elisabeth), Moscow (the Tchaikovsky),
he was awarded a title of the RSFSR Peoples' Artist. "Korsakov
can be compared to Heifets: he is able of doing anything, and this
ability is combined with his remarkable composure and lack of any
showiness" ("Telegraaf", Holland).
Translated by Oleg Alyakrinsky
Маx Bruch (1838- 1920)
Violin Concerto No.1, in G minor, Op. 26
1. Allegro moderato 07.07
2. Adagio 07.29
3. Allegro energico 06.52
Niccolo Paganini (1782- 1840)
Violin Concerto No.1, Op. 6
4. Allegro maestoso 18.23
5. Adagio 05.02
6. Rondo. Allegro spirituoso 08.58
Pablo de Sarasate (1844- 1908)
7. Zigeunerweisen ("Gipsy Tunes") for violin and symphony
orchestra, Op. 20 08.20
8. Introduction and Tarantella for violin and symphony orchestra,
Op. 43 05.24