Composed almost 20 years apart, the two violin concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich were both conceived with the great Russian violinist David Oistrakh in mind and dedicated to him.
Shostakovich completed Concerto No. 1 in 1948, at a time when he had fallen out of grace with the Soviet authorities and it seemed uncertain if the work would ever be performed in public. This is reflected in the concerto which begins with a dark and solitary violin song over gloomy cellos and double basses. Throughout the work there are allusions to the composer’s situation, and in the second movement is there is a theme reminiscent of Jewish popular music, as a symbol of Shostakovich’s identification with the suppressed Jewish culture.
In 1967 Shostakovich wrote to David Oistrakh, telling him about the completion of his Violin Concerto No. 2.
Performing these two great works is one of the finest violinists of our own time, Frank Peter Zimmermann. The recordings were made at public concerts at the Hamburg Laeiszhalle, with the eminent support of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester conducted by Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s principal guest conductor for more than a decade.
Here is violinist Frank Zimmermann, perfprming the concerto number 2 by Shostakovich: