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VIEUXTEMPS: Violin Concertos Nos. 5, 6 and 7 (Andrew Mogrelia/ Andrew Walton/ Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra/ Milos Betko/ Misha Keylin/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Takuo Yuasa) (Naxos: 8.557016)



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Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)Violin Concertos Nos. 5 -7The son of a weaver, amateur violinist and violin-maker,Henri Vieuxtemps was born in the Belgian town of Verviers in 1820 and had hisfirst violin lessons at the age of four from his father, followed by study inhis native town with a locally respected teacher. At the age of six he appearedas soloist in a concerto by Rode and after further success at home he embarkedwith his father and teacher on a concert tour of the Low Countries. Asuccessful appearance in Brussels led the violinist Charles de Beriot to offerlessons there and the boy later accompanied his new teacher to Paris, makinghis first concert appearance there in 1829, again in a concerto by Rode. Withthe revolution of the following year and de Beriot's marriage and departure ontour, Vieuxtemps, following his teacher's advice, returned to Brussels, wherehe worked on his own, developing his technique and his musical knowledge andtaste, not least through the duets he played with de Beriot's sister-in-law,Pauline Garcia, later Viardot and mother of the violinist Paul Viardot. A yearyounger than Vieuxtemps, she was a piano pupil of Liszt, although, like hersister, she made her later career as a singer.  A concert tour of Germany in 1833 brought friendship withthe violinist-composer Louis Spohr and in Vienna acquaintance with those whohad worked with Beethoven, whose Violin Concerto he performed in Vienna inMarch 1834, after a mere two weeks of study. In Leipzig he was acclaimed bySchumann, who compared the boy to Paganini, whom he met in London in 1834. InParis once more he took composition lessons from Antonin Reicha, who directedhis attention to the composition of concertos, resulting in the Violin Concertoin F sharp minor, Op.19, of 1836, later published as Violin Concerto No. 2(Naxos 8.554114).            Vieuxtempsmade his first visit to Russia in 1837, returning there the following year andappearing in concerts, after prolonged recuperation from an illness contractedin the course of the journey. It was in Russia that he wrote the ViolinConcerto No.1 in E major, Op.10I, (Naxos 8.554506).  The work was heard there and at home in Brussels, before, in1841, Vieuxtemps introduced it to the public in Paris, winning general criticalacclaim for a work that added a new dimension to the current violin repertoire,which had tended rather towards technically brilliant variations and fantasieson familiar operatic melodies.            Concerttours continued in the following years. In 1844 Vieuxtemps was in America,wooing audiences with variations on Yankee Doodle. In Vienna and London heappeared in Beethoven quartets and in concerts there and elsewhere in Europe.In 1846, however, he accepted an invitation to move to St Petersburg as courtviolinist and soloist in the Imperial Theatre. He remained there until 1852 andit was during this period that he wrote his Violin Concerto No. 4 inD minor, Op.31 (Naxos 8.554506). In a busy career, hecontinued to compose, appeared as a soloist in concerts, gave lessons and tookpart in chamber music recitals. In particular, he added a more classicaldimension to violin repertoire. Beethoven's Violin Concerto was now part of hisrepertoire, and he also gave a performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto,which was still a novelty. With Anton Rubinstein he was able to playBeethoven's Violin Sonatas and appeared together with him in concerts in Paris,after leaving Russia in 1852 to resume a largely peripatetic career as avirtuoso. He was eventually prevailed upon to accept a teaching position at theBrussels Conservatoire, where his own teacher de Beriot had taught, followed byHubert Leonard, settling in Brussels again in 1871, but continuing to giveconcerts.            Itwas in 1873 that Vieuxtemps suffered a stroke that paralysed his right arm. Hemoved to Paris and his violin class was taken over in 1875 by Wieniawski.Composition was still possible and gradually he found himself able to playchamber music again, at least in private. In 1879, finally giving up any hopeof resuming his career in Brussels, he moved to Algeria, where his daughter andson-in-law had settled. Here he continued to compose, although frustrated byhis inability to play what he had written or, in general, to hear it played. Hedied in June 1881.            Vieuxtempswas undoubtedly one of the greatest violinists of his time, combining superbtechnical command with deeper musical understanding.  He may be seen as representative of the Franco-Belgianschool of players, the successor of de Beriot, while those who were taught byhim or fell under his direct influence include his pupil Eug?¿ne Ysa??e, JenoHubay and Leopold Auer.            Thefifth of Vieuxtemps' completed violin concertos, the Concerto in A minor,Op.37, was written in 1858 and 1859 for Hubert Leonard at the BrusselsConservatoire, who wanted the work as a competition piece. The work was muchadmired by Leonard and by the legendary Leopold Auer. The three movements arejoined together to make what is virtually a single extended movement. The firstmovement starts with an orchestral exposition, introducing three contrastingthemes, before the dramatic entry of the soloist, who proceeds to a lyricaltheme. A second theme for the soloist, in C major, offers a further lyricalelement, which the soloist accompanies, during its repetition by theorchestra.  The extendeddevelopment brings further opportunities for virtuosity, before the cadenza, ofwhich Vieuxtemps offers two versions. The second of these, played here, makescontrapuntal use of elements already heard, in an inventive display. There is abrief Moderato link to the lyrical Adagio, with its moving A minor theme. Amodulation to A major leads to a C major melody from Gretry's opera Lucile, anallusion that earned the work its nickname. There follows the short A minorAllegro con fuoco, with which the concerto ends.            TheViolin Concerto No. 6 in G major, Op.47, and the Violin Concerto in A minor,Op.49, belong to the last year of Vieuxtemps' life, spent at Mustapha Superieurin Algeria. He set some store by these works, although he was unable to makeany final revisions that might have been possible had he been able to hear thehoped for performance by Eug?¿ne Ysa??e. He dedicated the sixth concerto to the Czechviolinist Wilma Normand-Neruda and the seventh to Jeno Hubay, both of whom wereamong his visitors in Algeria.  Thefirst of the two makes use of an unusual four-movement form. It opens with anabridged sonata-form movement, with an exposition for the orchestra and for thesoloist, the latter entrusted with the expected lyrical material.  The second movement is a gentlePastorale, followed by an Intermezzo in which the characteristic Sicilianorhythm is given to the soloist in 12/8 compound metre, while the orchestra isin simple quadruple metre, an unusual experiment in contrasting rhythms. Theconcerto ends with a final Rondo, its charming principal melody almostsomething from lighter operatic repertoire.   Theseventh concerto makes marginally greater demands on virtuosity. The firstmovement, briefly introduced by the orchestra, offers the two themes oftraditional sonata form, which return in recapitulation in E minor and A majorrespectively, leading to a brilliant coda. The slow movement, with the apttitle Melancolie, is in A minor. It leads to a final movement with an openingTarantella theme, followed by a theme of Spanish implication, echoed in itsorchestral accompaniment.  Keith Anderson
Facts
Item number 8557016
Barcode 747313201624
Release date 01/05/2003
Category Concertos | Classical Music
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Misha Keylin
Composers Henry Vieuxtemps
Conductors Takuo Yuasa
Andrew Mogrelia
Orchestras Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Producers Milos Betko
Andrew Walton
Disc: 1
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor, ‘Gretry
1 Allegro non troppo - Moderato
2 Adagio
3 Allegro con fuoco
Violin Concerto No. 6 in G major, Op. 47
4 Allegro moderato
5 Pastorale: Andante con moto
6 Intermezzo siciliano
7 Rondo final: Allegretto
Violin Concerto No. 7 in A minor, Op. 49
8 Moderato
9 Melancolie
10 Allegro vivo
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