Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto: Chilly Anxiety on the Edge of Terror

Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor begins with a lonely, lamenting statement in the solo violin. It’s a strangely solitary voice which opens the door to an unsettling drama filled with chilly anxiety and occasional raw terror. In his program notes, the American violinist Stefan Jackiw, who can be heard in this excellent concert performance of the piece, provides the following descriptive analysis of this opening: Prokofiev puts the …

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Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto: Music in Technicolor

Consider that iconic moment in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, when black and white, tornado-swept Kansas dissolves into the technicolor brilliance of Oz. With the help of a magical cinematographic slight of hand, Dorothy steps into a luscious dreamscape in which every tree and flower seems to be coated in an extra-glossy sheen. The film’s colorfully surreal middle section is bookended by the “real world” of black and white, which returns in the …

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The Artistry of Maxim Vengerov

Here are some inspiring clips featuring the great Russian violinist, Maxim Vengerov. In the first video, Vengerov performs the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957).  The Chicago Symphony accompanies, conducted by Daniel Barenboim. The concerto is followed by two encores: The Sarabanda from J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 for Solo Violin (0:35:31) and Eugene Ysaye’s Ballad (0:40:06). Polish violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) contributed greatly to the development …

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