Richard Strauss' Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 8 (1881-1882), the only essay in the genre the composer ever attempted, is an interesting example of Strauss' early music. The works of this period (the Sonata for Cello and Piano also comes to mind) are full of warmth and melodic sentimentality: the realization of Gemütlichkeit carried to the extreme. Yet, at a deeper musical level, the Concerto is not entirely successful. Although Strauss, who began composing this work at the age of 17, was an extraordinarily accomplished young man, he still lacked the sort of maturity and practical experience evident in works composed just a few years hence. Indeed, in later years, Strauss himself ridiculed the concerto. Still, it isn't fair to dismiss the Concerto out of hand as uninteresting juvenilia. The work's youthful sincerity, breadth of lyrical expression, and virtuoso fireworks retain a great deal of appeal for concertgoers, and the work does not deserve to be reduced to a mere historical curiosity. The expansive Allegro, nearly a quarter hour in length, gives the soloist a chance to demonstrate a high degree of technical skill and the full breadth of Romantic passion that the instrument is capable of expressing. The opening flourish alone is enough to frighten away many violinists. The second movement is particularly vocal in expression, sweet and pure, and provides a foretaste of the composer's magnificent operas and lieder yet to come. The concluding Rondo is the most technically demanding of the movements, at the same time presenting problems of musical coherence greater than those in the previous movements. A skillful performer, however, can transform it into a zestful display piece. The Concerto is dedicated to the composer's uncle and violin teacher, Benno Walter, who gave the premiere (with the young Strauss playing a piano reduction of the orchestral part) on December 5, 1882.
Share this page
Description by Blair Johnston
- Lento ma non troppo
- Rondo Prestissimo
|1992||EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution||64346|