I’ve been listening to the Violin concerto by Jean Sibelius. This Finnish composer was born in 1865 and died in 1957. His music is lyrical, dramatic, and emotional.
When I thought about this concerto, it occurred to me that Johannes Brahms – unlike Sibelius – faced a unique challenge when he composed his well-known violin concerto: Brahms was an outstanding pianist, and when it came to composing for violin, Brahms had to secure the assistance of his friend, Joseph Joachim, in order to resolve some technical aspects and to assure that all the music was playable.
That was not the case with Jean Sibelius, because he was a fabulous violinist, and he brought his violin expertise to the composition of this amazing work.
This violin concerto is becoming more and more an added standard to the three great concerti: Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky. There are particularly many emerging artists who show us their expertise and their promise using this music as a vehicle.
On the DVD that I am listening to, the fiddler is Valeriy Sokolov, who was born in the Ukraine in 1986. I liked his playing a lot, even though there were a few minor issues with certain passages.
Overall, he played beautifully, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy gave him outstanding support. Let me illustrate:
Here is Valeriy Sokolov playing a short section of the Sibelius concerto:
And here he is again, playing the Saint Saens “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso”: