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"Student Concerto"?


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I read on here somewhere (don't remember where) that Wieniawski 2 is considered a student concerto... This confused me because I considered it a lot harder both technically and musically than, say, Bruch and Mendelssohn- musically because it's tempting just to play the notes and it comes out sounding like an etude- plus, you have to get a good sound that's pretty hard to get with some of the double stops.

And technically... Shudder. I have never had such a hard time with a piece, except for maybe Lalo SE, and that was sort of a mental block. What are your thoughts on this? Not many people play it... Student concerto?

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Good question. There is a sizeable list of violin concerti that are/were in the repertoire of big-name violinists, and which, for a number of reasons, presently don't get chosen much for live performance with top symphonies. This list includes a lot of pieces that brilliant violinists wrote to show off their chops. It appears that some people don't consider the slender musical content of these works to be worth the physical effort of playing them. I confess to being a member of this group. Maybe it would have been different if I'd had an easy time learning Wieniawski 2. I am, however, content to hear a great fiddler go at this or any other "kitchen sink" showpiece, on the condition that doing so won't limit my access to fine live performances of works that are more musically satisfying to me.

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When I think of "student concerto" I think of Seitz, Accolay, and deBeriot... certainly not Bruch, Wieniawski, or Mendelssohn. I have seen Wieniawski performed with big-city orchestras by big-name pros. Sure, a lot of students, including me, learn the piece because it's a valuable learning tool, but that doesn't make it a "student concerto," at least not in my book. A lot of students learn the E-Major Bach Partita, too, but that doesn't make it a "student work."

As for being technically harder than whatever other piece, that depends on your own chops. I, too, found Wieniawski harder than Bruch, since I wasn't as strong with runs as with double-stops and chords. I found Mendelssohn harder than either. I don't really understand what you said about musical difficulty. Interpreting Wieniawski is about fun, creativity, and (melo)drama. I don't think there are so many issues of long-term continuity, precise evocation of specific moods, or sustained singing lines as compared to Mendelssohn, for instance - things which make Mendelssohn much more challenging to pull off, IMHO.

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...it's tempting just to play the notes and it comes out sounding like an etude...

I think that's just the kind of music that proves someone's musicianship. Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach too, but also those apparent etude-concertos.

Once there was this composer--let's call him "Brahms"--who didn't give a rodent's posterior what critics thought. He did care about Viotti #22, though. There's an article, maybe in The Strad, that shows that concerto's influence on the Violin Concerto and Double Concerto of this "Brahms" person. The writer made a very good case with each of the musical examples, plus quotes from some Brahms-Joachim correspondence (along the lines of "what a wonderful concerto" and "I performed 'your' Viotti Concerto"). Kreisler, Ysaÿe, and Joachim (the well-intentioned source of today's out-of-control "serious music all the time" fetish) performed it. To show you how crude their musical taste was: they also performed Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart Concertos, as well as Beethoven Sonatas.

If those critics think Wieniawski #2 is an inferior work, what would they say to the flashier #1 (written when the composer was about 17, and more influential in the grand scheme of things than some person with a newspaper job whining about what Fodor played)? Apparently it was good enough for Itzhak Perlman. He programmed it with the Israel Philharmonic once, but got sick and had a 14-year-old Schlomo Mintz fill in for him.

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I play the Wieni..Dm more than anything else (thanks to Music Minus One and a Superscope recorder in the spare bedroom).To say it's inferior in any way defies my sense of logic.It's all melody(divine Romance) challenging,relatively short,and a prime example of the 19th.century composer/player works that have not been equalled as the whole music culture has expanded (Rachmaninov a notable exception--perhaps there are a few others).My pop-oriented wife adores the Romance which speaks volumes! Nice discussion post!

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