James Waters, Perth Concert Hall’s creative director for classical music on the disastrous first performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and how Vilde Frang and the SCO’s concert on Wednesday 26 September will be anything but!
A remarkable musical experience
For many music lovers Beethoven is the finest of all violin concerti. It is the first of the five great 19th century violin concerti to be composed, being followed by Mendelssohn, Bruch, Tchaikovsky and in particular Brahms. It has everything. A massive opening movement which requires the utmost in virtuosity, a beautiful short second movement and a sparkling rondo to end with which leaves the listener with a smile on their face. The Beethoven Concerto was first performed by Franz Clement in 1806 but this was apparently a disaster - history relates that Clement only got the solo part the night before the performance and had to sight-read. If true, this must be one of the finest ever musical examples of a ‘hospital pass’ to use a sporting metaphor because the concerto is technically brutal and takes years and not hours to learn.
The piece was only taken up again decades later by the great 19th century violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim for whom Brahms wrote his magisterial concerto. Joachim also wrote the first of many cadenzas which have been written for this piece. Oddly the piece also exists in a version for piano and orchestra written by the composer himself.
Today’s performance is by Vilde Frang. She is a really exciting large scale performer and the Beethoven will suit her particularly well. A performance of this work by a truly great violinist is a remarkable musical experience!
Frang is accompanied by the SCO under Enrique Mazzola who some may have seen on Danielle de Niesse’s BBC 4 programme about the Glyndebourne production of The Barber of Seville which aired earlier this year.
James Waters on the Perth Concert Series
Perth Concert Series, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Vilde Frang plays Beethoven Violin Concerto
Wed 26 Sep 2018: 7.30pm Perth Concert Hall