WIENIAWSKI: Violin Showpieces

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Henryk Wieniawski (1835 - 1880)

Souvenir de Moscou, Op. 6

Capriccio-Valse, Op. 7

Variations on an original th?¿me (Th?¿me original varie), Op.


Polonaise brillante No.1, Op. 4

Russian Carnival (Le carnaval russe), Op. 11

Gigue, Op. 23

Saltarello (arr. Lenehan)

Mazurka, Op. 19, No.2,

Village Fiddler (Le menetrier)

Mazurka, Op. 19, No.1, Obertass

Mazurka, Op. 12, No.2, Polish Song (Chanson polonaise)

Mazurka, Kujawiak

Legende, Op. 17

Scherzo-tarantelle, Op. 16

The Polish violinist Henryk Wieniawski was born in Lublin in1835 and had his early training in his native country, before his admission at the age ofeight to the Paris Conservatoire, where he entered the class of Massart, with whom hecontinued to study after completing his course. In 1848 he travelled to St. Petersburg,where his performances made an excellent impression on Vieuxtemps, the court violinist.

The following year he returned to the Paris Conservatoire to acquire the necessary skillsfor composition. By the age of fifteen he was able to embark on a full career as avirtuoso, accompanied by his younger brother Jozef, two years his junior, who, like hismother and his maternal uncle, had become a very considerable pianist.

Between 1851 and 1853 the Wieniawskis were in Russia, givingconcert after concert. Henryk Wieniawski had already turned his attention to composition,with a Grand caprice fantastique in 1847 andan Allegro de sonate the following year incollaboration with his brother. By 1853 he had written some fourteen compositions forviolin and piano and violin and orchestra. Of these the first Violin Concerto won particular favour and secured hiswelcome in Germany, after he had played the concerto with the Gewandhaus Orchestra inLeipzig. In London he played with the Beethoven Quartet Society, together with the cellistPiatti, Joachim and Ernst, and in 1860 married the niece of the Irish pianist and composerGeorge Osborne. Performance in Paris with Anton Rubinstein led to an invitation to move toRussia, where he served as court violinist and for some years as professor of the violinat the Conservatory that Rubinstein had established in St. Petersburg. It was with theorchestra under the latter's direction that Wieniawski gave the first performance of hissecond Violin Concerto in St. Petersburg in 1862.

In 1872 Wieniawski left Russia, resuming his career as avirtuoso, initially in partnership with Rubinstein. From 1875 to 1877 he taught at theBrussels Conservatory, where he succeeded Vieuxtemps,and during this period and thereafter continued his performing career, now withdeteriorating health. In Russia again he set out on a concert-tour with Tchaikovsky'sone-time inamorata Desiree Art??t, but thiswas interrupted by a break-down in health and a brief attempt at convalescence at thehouse of Tchaikovsky's patroness Nadezhda von Meck. He died in Moscow on the last day ofMarch, 1880, at the age of forty-four.

Wieniawski's Souvenir deMoscou, originally written for violin and orchestra, was composed in 1853.

Starting with a flourish, the work allows the violin an exhibition of virtuosity, beforethe lyrical melody at the heart of the piece is heard. The violinist then provides anornamented running accompaniment to the theme, in which harmonics are intermingled. Thisleads to a rapid and very Russian dance, the melody in artificial harmonics and abrilliant conclusion.

The E major Capriccio-Valse

was written in 1852 and is introduced by the piano, which the violin interrupts withinterjected recitative, before the waltz-sequence starts. Again considerable use is madeof harmonics, double-stopping and other technical devices, although the lyricism of thework prevails throughout and is never sacrificed to mere technical display.

The theme of the Theme andVariations is first stated in multiple stops by the violinist and then, withaccompaniment, in the higher register of the instrument. A brilliant cadenza links this tothe cheerful following variation, and a further quicker cross-string version of the theme.

The next variation, unaccompanied, makes use of left-hand pizzicato, before, with addedaccompaniment using the lower register of the violin. Double-stopping marks the nexttreatment of the material, with passages of artificial harmonics. A gentle return to theearlier version of the theme leads to further lyrical exploration of the material and adance-like variation, played largely off the string and culminating in a brilliantconclusion.

The Polonaise,the Polish dance that had made its way from village to ball-room and thence, with the helpof composers like Chopin, to the fashionable salon and to the concert-hall, provides anopportunity for virtuoso violin treatment, evidence, if any were needed, of Wieniawski'snative origins. Le carnaval russe evokes thespirit of Russia, where he achieved his first and greatest successes and where he endedhis career. Dating from the early 1850s and published in Leipzig in 1854, the RussianCarnival allows the violinist-composer to exploit relatively simple thematic material withall the technical virtuosity at his command, including astonishing feats of left-handpizzicato and the favourite contemporary virtuoso device of accompanying a melody on onestring with a tremolo on the string below.

The Gigue in E minor

was published posthumously and follows a theme of Baroque contour if not Baroque rhythmwith an embellished version of the material. The Saltarello,the rapid Neapolitan dance, originally for two violins, offers an opportunity for feats ofagility and perpetual motion. To this the four Mazurkas, written in 1853 and 1860, providea contrast. The first of the group allows the Polish village fiddler a moment ofpreparation before he launches into the dance. The mazurka encompasses certain varietiesof rhythm, within the general form of the dance. These rhythms include that of theobertass and the kujawiak, reflected in two of the four Wieniawski Mazurkas, while the Polish Song has a more obviouslyvocal element about it, a reminder that the mazurka was in origin a dance song.

Wieniawski dedicated his Legende, written in 1860, the year ofhis marriage, to his wife Isabella Hampton. The musical contents of the work match itscharacteristically romantic title, as the tale unfolds. To this the Tarantelle makes alively and brilliant contrast, aversion of an Italian dance, the rapidity of which hasbeen suggested either as the result of or remedy for the bite of the tarantula spider,although a purely geographical derivation might seem more probable.

Marat Bisengaliev

Marat Bisengaliev 'Nas born in Alma-Ata in Kazakhstan in 1962and began to learn the violin at the age of six, graduating from the Alma-Ata Conservatoryin 1984 with a first prize. He went on to study at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscowwith Boris Belinky and Valerie Klimov. Having made his concerto debut at the age of ninein Alma-Ata, Bisengaliev continued to perform as a soloist throughout Eastern Europe andalso served as Artistic Director of the Kazakhstan Chamber Orchestra, before settling in1989 in England. In 1991 Bisengaliev won first prize in the International Nicanor ZabaletaCompetition, also receiving the special virtuoso prize for the most outstandingperformance of the competition. He earlier was a
Item number 8550744
Barcode 730099574426
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Violin
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Lenehan, John
Bisengaliev, Marat
Lenehan, John
Bisengaliev, Marat
Composers Wieniawski, Henryk
Wieniawski, Henryk
Producers Khouri, Murray
Khouri, Murray
Disc: 1
Scherzo-tarantelle, Op. 16
1 Souvenir de Moscou, Op. 6
2 Capriccio-valse in E Major, Op. 7
3 Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 15
4 Polonaise brillante, Op. 4
5 Le carnaval russe, Op. 11
6 Gigue in E minor, Op. 23
7 Saltarella
8 Mazurka Op. 19, No. 2
9 Mazurka Op. 19, No. 1
10 Mazurka, Op. 12, No. 2, "Polish Song"
11 Mazurka, 'Kujawiak'
12 Legende, Op. 17
13 Scherzo-tarantelle, Op. 16
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