Mendelssohn Violin Concerto





Mendelssohn Violin Concerto

Despite the long time lapse since its composition, this concert is still one of the most memorable events with reference to classical music works. Since its introduction, it has become popular to young soloists and lovers of all-instrumental concerts. In addition, this orchestral work, which was one of the mot important events for Felix Mendelssohn, has led to the appreciation and growth of violin performances (Kelly 265). Each presentation in this concert lasts for thirty minutes, an aspect that shows the expertise needed to perform in such a historic event in the world of music. One of the unique elements of this concert is that it comprises of three distinct yet closely related musical movements. These movements follow the fast-slow-fast format with a traditional concept in each one of them. The harmony in the three movements is responsible for exhibiting the unique correlation.

Felix Mendelssohn and Ferdinand David were the main organizers of this concert. As the chief conductor in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Mendelssohn appointed Ferdinand, who was his childhood friend, as the concertmaster of the concert. This collaboration led to the initiation of the concert in 1845 in the musical form of E minor (Hurd 12). The delay in the organization of this musical event was because of Mendelssohn’s third symphony as well as the need to seek advice on the composition and technical aspects of the concert. After this lengthy organization, the opening night took place in Leipzig on 13th march 1845. Although Mendelssohn could not conduct the concert due to health complications, he performed on 23 October 1845 with Ferdinand being the soloist in both events (Bruch, Felix, Daniel, Benjamin and Robert 91). The main instruments used in this opening night were a solo violin played by Ferdinand and a traditional pop group, which consisted of a pair of flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, horns, and trumpets. The timpani and strings were also part of this conventional orchestra.

In any Mendelssohn violin concerto, the three movements are vital in marking the different tempos included in the performances. To start with, the Allegro molto appassionato lasts for 12-14 minutes and is in E minor (Kelly 266). The instantaneous introduction of the solo violin in a fine tune of E minor is the defining characteristic of this classical musical movement. The notes then descend hastily yet smoothly with the orchestra repeating the opening theme. Subsequently, the performers instigate a chromatic switch by lowering the music with the main intent of introducing the second theme in the form of a G major.

 In this second phase, the violin soloist uses a pedal note by use of the open-G string (Kelly 264). Furthermore, in the development subdivision, the soloist leads the combination of the two themes. One of the characteristics of this section is the existence and utilization of the original cadenza written by Mendelssohn as opposed to offering an opportunity for the soloist to invent. Speed enhancement at this stage requires the alterations o f quavers to quaver-triplets and semiquavers (Bruch, Felix, Daniel, Benjamin and Robert 98). The orchestra repeats this structure in E major and E minor as a way of ending the first movement.

Adante is the second movement and lasts for 7-9 minutes. This transition phase entails the maintenance of the bassoon at B before shifting to middle C. This initiates the slow movement, which occurs as a C major. It comprises of similar elements as those from Mendelssohn’s composition of Songs without Words (Kelly 265). One of the major melody alterations in this movement is the introduction of the less evident subdivision of A minor. The orchestra uses this melody before paving way for the violin soloist to adopt it in addition to other accompaniments. The end of this movement creates a sense of serenity by shifting back to the original melody of C major.

The last musical section of Mendelssohn violin concerto is the Allegretto molto vivace, which appears as an E major tune. It lasts for 6-7 minutes and occurs following a transitional phase conducted by the violin and strings. These instruments adopt the E minor tune to execute this switch, which lasts for a period of fourteen bars. This movement has an energetic feeling that defines the sonata rondo feature. Consequently, the violin soloist ascends and descends rapidly in B major before the pop group transforms the tune to a G major (Kelly 269). The final format of the movement is the frenetic coda, which also acts as the concluding piece of the concert.

An evaluation of the elements in this concert indicates the innovative nature of Mendelssohn’s ideas. For example, the first movement comprises of the abrupt entry of a violin soloist, an element that was not common in other concerts. Unlike other traditional performances, the soloist paves way for the orchestra (Bruch, Felix, Daniel, Benjamin and Robert 99). This tactic is effective in illustrating the harmonious nature of the sonata format. in addition, Mendelssohn  reduces the chances of any deviations from the main them by creating an original cadenza as opposed to letting the soloist invent one for him or herself. Likewise, the final coda increases the liveliness of the concert and compliments the serenity instigated by other formats in the previous movements.

Works Cited:

Bruch, Max, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Daniel Raiskin, Benjamin Schmid, and Robert Schumann. Mendelssohn, F: Violin Concerto, Op. 64. Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services Ltd, 2009. Print.

Hurd, Michael. Mendelssohn. New York: T. Y. Crowell Co, 2001. Print.

Kelly, Thomas F. Music Then and Now. , 2013. Print.                     

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