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   Violin Concertos

Rare French Works

Hyperion CDA67294

Gabriel Fauré

Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 14 (1878-9)

Camille Saint-Saëns

Morceau de Concert in G Major, Op. 62 (1880)

Eduard Lalo

Fantaisie Norvégienne (1878)
Guitarre, Op. 28 (1882)

Ernest Guiraud

Caprice (1884)

Joseph Canteloube

Poème (1918)

Philippe Graffin, violin
Ulster Orchestra/Thierry Fischer
Hyperion CDA67294 71:13

This collection of short French pieces is useful in that few have been otherwise recorded. The Fauré concerto is incomplete but still worth hearing. Some may know the orchestral version of the Lalo fantasy. Nothing here to plumb emotional depths, just enjoyable music.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

French Virtuoso

Classic Talent DOM291112

Rodolphe Kreutzer

Violin Concerto #9 in E minor (1802)
Violin Concerto #13 in D Major (1804)
Peasant Song of the Canigou "Montanyas Regaladas" (1831)
Variations on "Nel cor più non mi sento" from "La Molinara" (1810)

Saskia Lethiec, violin
Orquesta Do Norte, Porto/José Ferreira Lobo
Classic Talent DOM291112 64:19

One of the primary exponents of the French school of violin, Kreutzer was able to ride out the French Revolution and subsequent chaos with barely a glitch to his career. He was famous throughout Europe as one of the great virtuosos of his age. Louis Spohr, no mean violinist himself considered him the most cultivated of the Parisian violinists, and Ludwig van Beethoven was so impressed with his playing that he dedicated his ninth violin sonata to him. Kreutzer considered Beethoven's sonata unplayable, however, and so never performed it.

The early concertos show the influence of his teacher, Anton Stamitz, and of the italian virtuoso Giovanni Battista Viotti who he met in 1782, but of the 20 concertos (all composed 1801-10) the later works show an individual voice emerging. Albrecht Breuninger has also released a set of three late concertos (#15, 18 & 19) with Alun Francis and the Southwest German Radio Orchestra on CPO 777188-2.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Concerto Premieres

Caprice CAP21644

Per Gunnar Fredrik de Frumerie

Cello Concerto, Op. 81 (1984)
Violin Concerto, Op. 19 (1976)
13 Symphonic Variations, Op. 25 (1941)

Mats Lindström, cello
Tobias Ringborg, violin
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Lü Jia
Caprice CAP21644

Often compared to Lars-Erik Larsson or Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, the Swede Gunnar de Frumerie took up the Romantic baton from countrymen Hugo Alfvén and Ture Rangström. The works on this disc are at times modern sounding, but with gentle orchestrations that are never congested. The symphonic variations, especially, display Frumerie's command of orchestral colors. The concertos are virtuosic, without being aggressive.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

Schubert Redux

CPO 999424

Felix Weingartner

Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 52 (1911) 1

Franz Schubert

Symphony in E Major, D. 729 (1821),
arranged by Weingartner

1 Laurent Albrecht Breuninger, violin
SWR Radio Orchestra, Kaiserslautern/Alun Francis
CPO 999424-2 67:55

Although written in the same year that Mahler died, Weingartner's concerto is very much of the previous century and is a Romantic work which allows the soloist plenty of scope for technical and emotional display. The symphony, sometimes known as #7, where it fits appropriately, is another that Schubert discarded, having orchestrated only a part of the first movement. Various attempts at scoring it have been made, Weingartner's being the best-known. The arrangement for the most part is appropriately Schubertian and provides a work that deserves more frequent outings. Recordings of it have been few, but this one offers it in the best light.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by Weingartner: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Yet Another Franck

Audite 20.034

Eduard Franck

Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 57 (1860)
Symphony in B Flat Major, Op. 52 (1856)

Christiane Edinger, violin
Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hans-Peter Frank
Audite 20.034 60:04

Eduard Franck was a German composer who was unrelated to the Belgian César Franck. The concerto has many similarities to Beethoven's, and the symphony has more than a trace of Mendelssohn and Schumann. Both works make an enjoyable change from some perhaps too familiar works of the period. The same artists perform the Violin Concerto, Op. 30, and the Symphony in A Major, Op. 47, on a Fermate CD (FER20025) which appears to have been deleted but which some web searching might find.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

Little-Known Swede

Phono Suecia PSCD719

Yngve Sköld

Symphony #2, Op. 36 (1937)
Violin Concerto, Op. 40 (1941)

Tobias Ringborg, violin
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Tuomas Olula
Phono Suecia PSCD719 65:38

The Swedish composer Sköld displays a variety of moods and influences in these two works. The symphony has echoes of Sibelius without sounding particularly like him, and such composers as Elgar and possibly Barber appear fleetingly. The concerto is indebted to those by Szymanowski, but the finale has an almost jokey quality. This label, devoted to Swedish composers, has some interesting music which has mostly been otherwise unrecorded.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - France - Japan

Orchestral Tour de Force

Albany TROY1017

Lee Actor
(b. 1952)

Violin Concerto (2005)
Symphony #2 (2006)
Timpani Concerto (2005)

Pip Clarke, violin
Stuart Chafetz, timpani
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kirk Trevor
Albany TROY1017 67:11

One of the advantages of the internet is the ability to be able to sample music before buying it: for many, perhaps, the recent dates of the works on this CD would be an immediate turn-off. Although timpani concertos are not for everyone – and this one is the shortest of the three pieces – the other two works have much to recommend them. The symphony has a variety of moods ranging from the bleak to the jovial as in Shostakovich's 9th symphony. The violin concerto in many ways reminds me of Britten's. Actor is yet another American composer to watch.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Composer of the Great Plains

Naxos 8.559225

George Frederick McKay

Violin Concerto (1940) 26:01
Sinfonietta #4 (1942) 17:46
Song Over The Great Plains (1953) 13:59
Suite on Sixteenth Century Hymn Tunes (1962) 20:32

Brian Reagin, Violin
National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/John McLaughlin Williams
Naxos 8.559225

In a non-pejorative sense, the movie music we associate with "cowboy," travel and nature films of Western America owe much to this composer. His expansive style and evocative musical picture-painting can be heard most clearly in the "Song Over The Great Plains", an orchestral piece with solo piano commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Although McKay wrote programs to accompany some of his music, and noted that the song of a meadow-lark inspired this particular piece, the music can be enjoyed fully even without explanations.

Naxos has released three other CDs of the music of McKay in their American Classics series: 8.559143, 8.559052, 8.559330. All are well worth exploring.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]


Deutshe Grammophon 429860

Carl Ruggles

Sun-treader (1926-31)

William Schuman

Violin Concerto (1959) 1

Walter Piston

Symphony #2 (1943)

1 Paul Zukofsky, violin
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
Deutshe Grammophon 429860-2 74:43

Ruggles' music is not easy to love but even if you find it not to your taste, the rest of the CD will more than make up for it. The Schuman Violin Concerto is variously anguished, calm, strident, lyrical, violent, and similar in many ways to the first Shostakovich Violin Concerto. There are other recordings if you can't find this one. Less often recorded is the Piston symphony, in three movements, at whose heart is an adagio which is unmistakably American. For my money, it's Piston's best symphony. The performances are exemplary.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

Dyson's Concerto for Violin

Chandos CHAN9369

George Dyson

Violin Concerto
Children's Suite after Walter De La Mare

Lydia Mordkovich, violin
City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
Chandos CHAN9369 62:23

Although written in 1942, this beautiful violin concerto would make lovers of Elgar and Stanford very happy with its lyrical style and noble spirit. Dyson's concerto has four movements, instead of the usual three. It opens with a very introspective first movement that seems initially like a symphony with violin accompaniment. The second movement is a jolly jig, followed by a very somber third movement, song-like in its orchestral introduction and carried through in the solo part. The last movement is a joyous, lighthearted dance. It leaves the listener in good spirits.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan
  Reissued as part of CHAN10337: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by Dyson: Sheet Music Plus - ]