Britten and Shostakovich:

  • Violin Concertos

On this CD, violinist James Ehnes teams up with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Kirill Karabits, in performances of Violin Concertos by Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich.

The rise of the Nazis and the persecution of the Jews appalled Britten. Peace and reconciliation was his credo, as exemplified in his later composition ‘War Requiem’.

Mr. Ehnes gives us the following music:


  • Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 15


  • Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 99

Performed by James Ehnes (violin), with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Kirill Karabits conducting.

The first of Shostakovich’s two violin concertos was composed in 1948 for renowned violinist David Oistrakh. It had to wait until 1955 for its premiere due to the ban on ‘serious’ music by the notorious Zhdanov Conference and Party Decree of 1948. Only ‘patriotic’ music was allowed. With Stalin’s death in 1953 Shostakovich was finally able to exert his artistic freedom.

This concerto is a truly symphonic work in scale, and cast in four movements with a huge cadenza placed before the finale.

Here is a video of the Britten: Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen, violin, and James Harding conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker:



And next, here is the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1, performed by violinist Hilary Hahn:



Tags: James Ehnes, Britten, Shostakovich, Violin concertos

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