If you love classical music, you have already been feasting repeatedly on recordings of the often-performed violin concertos by Brahms, the Bruch no. 1, the Mendelssohn e minor, and the Tchaikovsky. In other words, the “biggies.”
If you love the genre, you will find still more treasures among the concertos written by “secondary” composers of the late classical and romantic eras. To aid you in your explorations, Naxos has released many excellent recordings of violin concertos from these composers, and more . . .
- Joseph Joachim (1831–1907), a Hungarian-born violinist, is best known today as the first violinist to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto. But to say that Joachim played it first minimizes the immense role that he played in its composition. He worked alongside his friend Brahms and helped him discover and utilize the full expressive capabilities of the instrument. Joachim was a top-tier composer too. Naxos offers a recordingof his Violin Concerto Op. 3 in g minor, which sounds more than a little bit like Brahms. The recording features violinist Suyoen Kim and the Staatskapelle Weimar conducted by Michael Halasz.
Here’s a presentation – audio only – of the Naxos artists performing it:
- Charles Auguste de Bériot (1802–1870) was a Belgian-born violinist and composer who spent most of his life in Paris. He was rightfully regarded as a major musical figure during his lifetime. He was married to Maria Malibran, one of the most important opera singers of his era – they were a power couple for sure. Bériot composed 10 concertos and if you haven’t heard one, you’re in for a treat. They’re highly melodic, impeccably crafted and even (to my ears) inspired at times. Naxos has released two CDs of his concertos – one performed by Philippe Quint and the other by Takako Nishizaki.
Here’s audio of the third movement of his Violin Concerto No. 9, played by Takako Nishizaki with the RTBF Symphony.
- Henri François Joseph Vieuxtemps (1820 –1881), also born in Belgium, was also an important composer and violinist. If you roam conservatory halls, you will overhear student violinists say that they are “working on a Vieuxtemps,” as though his concertos were works that students need to study before they can take on more sophisticated works. They aren’t – the quality of his music speaks for itself. Vieuxtemps was a remarkable melodist who composed no fewer than seven violin concertos for us to savor. Naxos offers three CDs.
Here’s a presentation – again, audio only – of the first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 1,performed by Naxos artist Misha Keylin with the Arnheim Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dennis Burkh.
- Louis Spohr (1784–1859) was a German violinist and composer who wrote chamber music, Lieder,10 symphonies, 10 operas and (hold onto your hat) 18 violin concertos. If Beethoven had never lived, chances are that Spohr would now be regarded as the most important composer of the late Classical period. Naxos has released an excellent recording of three Spohr violin concertos, all played by Simone Lamsma with the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyvaskyla conducted by Patrick Gallois.
The Spohr concertos have often been recorded. You’ll find a good selection of video performances of them on YouTube, and a good selection of recordings too.
Other Concertos to Explore
You can also discover plenty of worthy concertos by Anton Arensky, Alexander Glazunov, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Rodolphe Kreutzer, and Henryk Wieniawski.
On and on it goes. So little time, so many composers, right? Get going! And thank, you Naxos.