Sibelius and Khachaturian Violin Concertos Orchestral Favourites Volume 11

Although music as a medium for the illustration of natural phenomena has always been a source of fascination for Sibelius, who regarded his seven symphonies as the backbone of his oeuvre, composed (like Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky) just the one violin concerto. He did begin work on a second during the First World War, but only the Humoresques Opp. 87 and 89 survive from this period. The composition of the Violin Concerto in D Minor was itself one of Sibelius' more protracted battles. Unlike Brahms, who had to rely on his friend the celebrated virtuoso Joseph Joachim for expert technical advice, Sibelius was all too familiar with his instrument.

Permanently in debt, and not infrequently intoxicated, Sibelius seems to have lacked the creative confidence to complete the work. Like the Fifth Symphony, it would require extensive revision before reaching its definitive form in 1905. At a crucial stage in the composition of the last movement, Aino Sibelius had to call upon the conductor Robert Kajanus to help extricate her husband from the Konig - a notorious all-male restaurant-cum-drinking club. Further deadlines came and went as Sibelius fought to compose a concerto for the kind of virtuoso he had himself dreamt of being. He was his own Joachim, even if he was no longer active as a player. With the fervent nostalgia of so many passages betraying the intensity of the struggle, the extraordinary formal cohesion overall is a very special victory ...



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