Felix Mendelssohn - Violin Concertos in E minor and D minor
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and generally known as Felix Mendelssohn (February 3, 1809 – November 4, 1847) was a German composer, pianist and conductor of the early Romantic period. He was born to a notable Jewish family, the grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His work includes symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano and chamber music. After a long period of relative denigration due to changing musical tastes and anti-Semitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, his creative originality is now being recognized and re-evaluated. He is now among the most popular composers of the Romantic era.
Far from the troubled, coarse libertine that has become an archetype of the Romantic composer, Felix Mendelssohn was something of an anomaly among his contemporaries. His own situation -- one largely of domestic tranquility and unhindered career fulfillment -- stands in stark contrast to the personal Sturm und Drang familiar to his peers. Mendelssohn was the only musical prodigy of the nineteenth century whose stature could rival that of Mozart. Still, his parents resisted any entrepreneurial impulses and spared young Felix the strange, grueling lifestyle that was the lot of many child prodigies. He and his sister Fanny were given piano lessons, and he also studied violin, and both joined the Berlin Singakademie. Mendelssohn's advocacy was the single most important factor in the revival of Bach's vocal music in the nineteenth century, most famously realized in the 1829 performance of the St. Matthew Passion at the Berlin Singakadamie.
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Violin Concerto in E minor is Mendelssohn’s last large orchestral work. It forms an important part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time.
Mendelssohn had originally promised a violin concerto in 1838 to Ferdinand David, a close friend who was a talented violinist. However, the work took another six years to complete and was not premiered until the following year in 1845. During this time, Mendelssohn maintained a regular correspondence with David, seeking his advice with the concerto. The work itself was one of the first violin concertos of the Romantic era and was influential to the compositions of many other composers. Although the concerto consists of three movements in a standard fast–slow–fast structure and each movement follows a traditional form, the concerto was innovative and included many novel features for its time. Distinctive aspects of the concerto include the immediate entrance of the violin at the beginning of the work and the linking of the three movements with each movement immediately following the previous one.
The concerto was initially well received and soon became regarded as one of the greatest violin concertos of all time. The concerto remains popular and has developed a reputation as an essential concerto for all aspiring concert violinists to master, and usually one of the first Romantic era concertos they learn. Many professional violinists have recorded the concerto and the work is regularly performed in concerts and classical music competitions.
The concerto was first performed in Leipzig on 13 March 1845 with Ferdinand David as soloist. Mendelssohn was unable to conduct due to illness and the premiere was conducted by the Danish composer Niels Gade.
1. Allegro molto appassionato
3. Allegro non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
Violin Concerto in D minor
Practically speaking, there is really just one Mendelssohn violin concerto: the great Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, of 1844, long a war horse of the repertory. But there is also a very early piece in D minor for violin and string orchestra, composed in 1822 when Mendelssohn was only 13. This obscure item was unearthed and prepared for publication by Yehudi Menuhin in the early 1950s (along with its publication in 1952 came the publication of another Menuhin-discovered work: the 1838 Violin Sonata in F major), and judging at a distance now of better than half a century, three things can safely be said of the piece and its discovery: 1. the find was a triumph of mid-twentieth-century musicology; 2. the piece is surprisingly good (or perhaps it is not surprising, knowing as we do what the brilliant and precocious young Mendelssohn was capable of); and 3. the piece has not yet and likely never will make even the slightest dent in the standard repertory. Audiences listen to it, and violinists play it, with a smile on their face (at best a warm, accepting smile; at worst, the smile of condescension), but few are willing to take the work seriously.
The manuscript of the concerto is, by comparison with some manuscripts, not too well-traveled. In 1853, the Mendelssohn family presented it as a gift to the eminent violinist Ferdinand David (who in 1844 played the premiere of the E minor Concerto). It then found its way back to the Mendelssohn family, and then about 100 years later it was presented to Yehudi Menuhin, who, being Yehudi Menuhin, lost no time in bringing it before the public.
*Emmy Verhey, violin (Concerto in E minor)
*Arpad Jóo, conductor (Concerto in E minor)
*Budapest Symphony Orchestra (Concerto in E minor)
*Gil Sharon, violin (Concerto in D minor)
*Amati Chamber Orchestra (Concerto in D minor)