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Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto Report

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Updated: May 4th, 2021

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, I have been to Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at Pasadena Symphony. The Spanish brilliant musician Jose Luis Gomez conducted this concert. He was born in Venezuela. Gomez started his music career as a violinist. At the age of 11 years old he became Concertmaster of the Youth Orchestra of Zulia State – part of El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles de Venezuela. Lu Jia, Muhai Tang and John Nelson taught him. After only six months of study, he participated in Georg Solti competition and won it. Critics say that he knows how to emphasize the sounds of orchestra with the help of rhythmic oscillations and illuminating pauses. He offers listener an interpretation of his own using his experience of an orchestral violinist. Many listeners describe him as musically vibrant conductor.

Chee-Yun was a main violin. She is the winner of the 1989 Young Concert Artists International Auditions and the 1990 Avery Fisher Career Grant. She regularly performs with the world’s most famous orchestras. Among them are Philadelphia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and the Toronto, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh and National symphony orchestras. Chee-Yun has a flawless, utterly secure and wonderful technique and extraordinary talent. She is a born performer, self-confident, deeply passionate and brilliantly artistic instrumentalist. Chee-Yun has a smooth, rich and dazzling tone. She toured with the Haifa Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Germany’s Braunschweig Orchestra and the MDR Radio Leipzig. Her releases in the Denon label include Mendelssohn’s E Minor Violin Concerto, Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5, Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, and Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3, with the London Philharmonic, etc.

The composer-in-residence and conductor was Peter Boyer. He is among the most frequently performing composers in the US. He has over 300 public performances. Conductor Keith Lockhart chose Boyer for the Boston Pops 125th anniversary commission. It was arranged to honor the legacy of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Cherry Jones narrated the premiere of Boyer’s The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers. He created a centerpiece for the An American Salute: The Boston Pops at 125. It won a Boston/New England Emmy Award. Boyer was appointed as composer-in-residence for Tchaikovsky Violin Concert for this season.

“Apollo” from the Three Olympians. Peter Boyer (b. 1970)

This work was commissioned by the Conductors Institute in 2000. It is in three contrasting movements. These movements require different technique and interpretation from the conductor. The music of first movement is calm in mood, but at the same time, it is radiant and rather energetic. It is portraying Apollo. The second part (second movement) is a representation of the image of Aphrodite. Naturally, it is melodic, harmonic and lyrical. The last part is a portrayal of Ares (god of war). The music in this part is fast and impulsive. It has a galloping, angry rhythm.

Violin Concerto in D Minor, Opus 47. Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1957)

It was written in summer of 1903. The work was dedicated to Willy Burmester, leader of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. The work has three movements:

  1. Allegro moderato in D minor and in 2/2 time
  2. Adagio di molto in B-flat major and in 4/4 time
  3. Allegro, ma non tanto in D major and in 3/4 time

The first movement is Allegro Moderato in D minor. It opens with a pianissimo strings, then goes soloist with IV-V-I phrase, in D minor G-A-D, etc. By the end, cadenza opens into the recapitulation. The second movement is Adagio di molto in B-flat major. It is very lyrical. The third movement is Allegro, ma non tanto in D major. It has formidable technical difficulty. It is also known as one of the greatest concerto movements. The rhythmic percussion in the opening continues with a boldly entry of the violin. Its first theme features staccato double-stops and run with rapid string-crossing. The second theme is almost a waltz. The variations of it are played with arpeggios and double-stops. A run of octaves leads to a recapitulation of the previous theme. The last section is introduced with clarinet and low brass. It is featured with sardonic passage and violin passage of harmonics. It leads to a double stops and soaring octaves. Then goes a brief orchestral tutti and the finish in violin.

The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)

The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Un poco sostenuto – Allegro – Meno allegro (C minor)
  2. Andante sostenuto (E major)
  3. Un poco allegretto e grazioso (A-flat major)
  4. Adagio – Più andante – Allegro non troppo, ma con brio – Più allegro (C minor/C major)

The first movement is a large orchestral sonata. The second and third movements are more tensive than others. They have a lighter tone. The third movement composed of the Allegretto, which is contrasting “trio” section. It is in ternary form (ABA). It is calm and stepwise melody. Then a descending dotted-eighth pattern in theme B. The C and D themes are different. They are more angular rhythmically. Then follows the reprise. The special attention is paid to symmetry.

The fourth movement can be described as a “gloomy dramatic rhetoric”. The last section ends with a grand finale melody.

Clarinet concerto in A major, K. 622, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

The Clarinet concerto was written in 1791. It was written for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. It consists of three movements:

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Rondo: Allegro

The concerto has a fast–slow–fast form. It has a delicate interplay between orchestra and soloist. The first movement is joyful and light. Then it transforms into a flurry. The second theme is more subtle. The second movement has a rounded binary form. The B section is prominent. It exploits the chalumeau and clarion registers. The third movement is a cheerful refrain. It is a rondo and sonata mixed together. The first B is very lyrical, features dramatic lines. The C is a most dramatic part of the concert. It is a dialog between soprano and baritone. It changes from F♯ Minor back to A major. The modern scoring is for solo clarinet in A, flute I/II, bassoon I/II, horn I/II (in A and D), violin I/II, viola, cello, and double bass.

The Symphony No. 4 in G major, Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)

The Symphony No. 4 in G major was written in 1899-1900. The symphony consists of four movements:

  1. Bedächtig, nicht eilen
  2. In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast
  3. Ruhevoll, poco adagio
  4. Sehr behaglich

The first movement can be described as moderately and it is not rushed. It has a sonata form and it is unusually restrained. It possesses a classical poise. The second movement is leisurely moving, without haste. It is a scherzo and trio. The third form is a peaceful melody, somewhat slowly. It has a theme and different variations of it. The fourth form can be described as very comfortable. It is strophic. It opens with relaxed, bucolic scene in G major. It presents a sunny vision of Heaven.

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)

The Violin Concerto was written in 1878. It is one of the world’s best known. It is also one of the most technically difficult among all. The concerto is naturally consists of three movements:

  1. Allegro moderato (D major)
  2. Canzonetta: Andante (G minor)
  3. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo (D major)

His concerto has a lot of piquant rhythms and freshness. It was described by musicians of that time as light and fresh. It has outstanding and excellently harmonized melodies.

In the Steppes of Central Asia, Alexander Borodin (1833 – 1887)

It is an eight-minute masterpiece. This symphonic poem shows an interaction between Russians and Asians in the steppe of the Caucasus. It begins with a dominant pedal. The opening represents the Russians. Then, the melancholy notes of Eastern melody on English horn can be heard. The tranquil songs gradually combine contrapuntally in harmony rising to a powerful climax. In addition, in the middle a “traveling” theme played in pizzicato can be heard. The symphony consists of four elements. The first one is a sustained violin harmonic. Second is pizzicato loping figure. Others are a Russian folksong and an Eastern melody.

The instruments used in Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto are 14 first violins, 10 second violins, 9 violas, 10 cellos, 9 basses, 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, harp, piano, timpani, 2 percussion. The string section was, naturally, the largest one. It included five sections: the first violins, the second violins, the violas, the cellos and the basses. First violins, second violins, violas and cellos were clockwise around the conductor. To the right, basses were behind the cellos.

I was a good and attentive listener, because the performance was exciting. Performing musicians completely caught my attention. I did enjoyed the concert very much. Chee-Yun was brilliant, as expected. Jose Gomez was very energetic and gorgeous. He is a great conductor, no doubt. The whole concert was flawless and inspiring. The music was creating vivid images in listeners’ minds. Sometimes it was almost material, flowing through the veins right to the heart.

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