Pierre Rode: Violin Concertos, Nos. 7, 10 & 13

Friedemann Eichhorn

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Pierre Rode: Violin Concertos, Nos. 7, 10 & 13 Review

by James Manheim

French virtuoso-composer Pierre Rode wrote a set of 24 Caprices for solo violin that students of the instrument still encounter, but his violin concertos are almost forgotten. In his own heyday -- the beginning of the nineteenth century -- he was well known. He was one of the few composers whose works Paganini played other than his own, and you can see why: his conception of virtuosity, more long-breathed and much less fiery, must have made for effective contrasts with the acrobatics the great Italian wrote for himself. The most interesting connection was that with Beethoven, whose final violin sonata Rode premiered with the Archduke Rudolph at the keyboard. The chronology needs more investigation, but the concertos here have a familiar feel for anyone who has heard Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. They follow the pattern of a large, airy first movement, in moderato tempo, with a host of effects in the orchestration balancing the soloist's utterances, a limpid slow movement, and a brisk, more vigorous finale raises the question of to what extent Beethoven was trying to write a French-style concerto, and of whether the result belongs among the composer's works imbued with the spirit of the French Revolution. Rode's career began amidst the French Revolution, and his concertos themselves hang together nicely. The later Violin Concerto No. 13 in F sharp minor/A major features an intriguing use of a theme consisting of regularly diminishing rhythmic values. Violinist Friedemann Eichhorn delivers a soaring, detached tone in the opening movements that's perfect for the music, and the Southwest German Radio Orchestra, Kaiserslautern, under Nicolás Pasquet once again provides testimony to the powers of many of the smaller regional German orchestras. An intriguing find for violin lovers.

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