Magazine article Strings

Painstaking Research Applied to a Masterpiece

Magazine article Strings

Painstaking Research Applied to a Masterpiece

Article excerpt

PAINSTAKING RESEARCH APPLIED TO A MASTERPIECE

Beethoven's Violin Concerto benefits from the scholarship of editor Jonathan Del Mar

BEETHOVEN CONCERTO IN D FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA, OP. 61

Edited by Jonathan Del Mar. Bärenreiter urtext, euro10.50 (study score)

Long regarded as a pinnacle in the solo-violin repertoire, Ludwig Van Beethoven's concerto was coolly received at its initial hearing in 1806, despite eminent soloist Franz Clement's brilliant performance. Laying dormant for four decades, it was only when the 12-year-old Joseph Joachim played it at a London concert in 1844, with Felix Mendelssohn conducting, that its outstanding qualities began to be recognized at last.

The year 1806 proved productive for Beethoven, with the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Fourth Symphony, the three Rasumovsky Quartets (Nos. 7-9, Op. 59), a revision of his Fidelio opera, and the Violin Concerto all completed. Although primarily a pianist, Beethoven was thoroughly acquainted with the violin and its capabilities and apparently sought no help in the concerto's composition. [Editor's Note: There is conjecture that Beethoven was influenced by Clement's own violin concerto.] His first publisher, Clementi, asked Beethoven to write a piano version, who did so readily, as he had no regular income and relied on dual publications such as this. Hastily put together, it bears no comparison with the "famous five" piano concertos.

Since the Violin Concerto's first edition in 1808, there have been many reissues of this famous work with successive publishers and violinists adding their own idiosyncrasies with perhaps no great regard for punctiliousness. …

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