Finally over ‘a’ hump…

Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Sergei Prokofiev

Dear Diary,

I think I’ve finally gotten to the place where I just want to put notes down and start exploring my thoughts on paper rather than philosophically. I was looking around the net today, and would you believe it, Prokofiev kept a diary for years! Who knew?! His son talks about it and suddenly I have an urge to buy it and see what the great man wrote about, to see if it inspires me in my ramblings!

Anyways, I did a final pass looking at others analysis alongside my own, focusing in particular on Prokofievs slow, gorgeous strong and ‘present’ melody that dominates the opening of his violin concerto. I adore the way he passes it on to sections of the orchestra while the soloist continues on with a gorgeous counter melody.  He’s in no rush to get rid of it, and when he finally decides to ramp up the piece we are ready to accept the increase in tempo.

I also love the cyclical nature of the piece and as the third movement ends we are receiving glimpses of the opening movement within the  finale. I love it love it love it. Actually, afterwards, when I was looking around to see if I was completely insane in my notes on teh work, I came across a wonderful exploration of the work on the website. They describe the melodies as “lyrical” and I couldn’t agree more.

The melody to my opening movement is incredibly lyrical and I’ve been very nervous about giving it the correct treatment as it evolves.  Comparing Beethovens, Prokofiev’s and Shostakovich’s concertos, I would have to say that Beethoven is most direct with his, followed by Prokoviev where the lyricism is slightly more stretched or elongated and finally Shostakovich where the melody isn’t as defined lyrically, but as a melodic phrase is is maybe the most enchanting of the three.

This is significant for me, watching how these three composers in particular evolve the concepts from a channeled musical idea to a scripted presented piece of music. My piece also starts very directly with the violin singing over a bed of tones almost from the onset. With the exception of Beethoven who has an orchestral statement ahead of the melodic theme, the others present their ideas more as I do. This makes me feel that my crazy methodology is not so unacceptable to the concert going public.

Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn

I actually had a listen to Mendelssohn’s violin concerto today as I have been reading about how it starts unlike the regular classical concerto and in essence, ushered in a craze in this department. I recognize the melody, but on a whole, the concerto touches me less than the three I’ve been talking about. His orchestra is more like Beethoven’s but the way he chooses his notes I guess doesn’t do it for me as much as the others do.

I did want to check out how the violin sounded in E minor over the duration of a concerto, as that is how my piece is currently scored, although I’m open to one last round of key checks with Cora before I commit. Incidentally, Mendelssohn wrote his concerto in E minor and Mozart wrote a violin concerto in G major (no. 3) and that, I have still to listen to.

Anyway, if the key is good enough for these guys, then I guess I can handle it and I am HIGHLY likely to take the piece to either D major or minor from E minor anyway, so its not like I’m not going to visit “golden resonance” territory.

In fact… It may make it interesting if I develop in a more resonant key, whereas Beethoven for example develops in A major or F major for example (which I adore!) but I am curious to see if it gives the piece more power at that moment – its like me playing golf right handed… in theory as a natural lefty, I should have more power in my lead hand… although sadly I’m yet to discover it…..

Dmitri Shostakovich (25 September 1906 – 9 August 1975)

I actually came across a great analysis of Shostakovich that you can read here. I love seeing what others think and seeing if they word something that was in the back of my head, because then it resonates the thought and I suddenly feel like I’ve expanded my knowledge on the work.

I had been reading a lot about the ‘Classical Concerto‘ form, trying to draw a definitive line through time from the classical concertos to our modern concertos to explore how the form has evolved and learn from the past masters of the art.  Here are some interesting links on the topic:

To my great joy, I discovered that Mendelssohn spent a lot of time talking back and forth with his violinist when writing the piece as did Brahms and Prokofiev. In fact, Brahms piece was premiered alongside Beethovens concerto by violinist Joseph Joachim so there is historical precedent on a rather grand scale for what Cora is longing to attempt!

An interesting discovery was Brahms complaint that:

it was a lot of D major—and not much else on the program”

This is another reason that sticking with E minor in the vein of Mendelssohn E minor or Mozart’s G major works would be good for the program. Good – I am settling down with the idea of the tonality.

I’ll post my own analysis of Beethoven later, but for now, I came across a very well laid out page on a Beethoven website breaking down the three movements into very clear sections. In fact, I may use their design to present my own analysis seeing as it comes across so clear.

Here is the link if you are interested.

I think my major mental breakthrough of the weekend was getting over my demons about my ideas being too radical. Watching these great men write their seminal works in my mind these last few weeks, has shown me that they, were always breaking through doors that were closed in front of them. In fact, more often than not, the concertos were not even respected by the viewing public at the time of their premiere, yet later went on to be some of the true behemoths of the violin repertoire, and in Beethoven’s case, I would argue that it is really up there at the pinnacle of creative music historically speaking.

A final fun link of the day. I came across a great article on The Culture Club Blog titled The Top Ten Violin Concertos of All Time and though it would be nice to share. I’m not sure I agree with the order, but there are several monster works up there, by some true masters of violin composition. I guess I have some CD’s to find amárach!

The order:

1. Ludwig van Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61

2. Johann Sebastian Bach, Concerto for 2 violins in D minor, BWV 1043

3. Joannes Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77

4. Jean Sibelius, Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K216

6. Igor Stravinsky, Violin Concerto in D

7. Sergei Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, Op. 19

8. Alban Berg, Violin Concerto

9. Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35

10. Dmitri Shostakovich, Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99

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