The violin. Whether your primary school attempts to play still haunt your parents, you fell head over heels for The Duke in Bridgerton thanks to the Vitamin String Quartet covers, or your grandma raves about how much she loves André Rieu whenever classical music is mentioned – the instrument, its music and devoted practitioners are the trebled soundtrack through many of our lives.
This World Violin Day, we asked the talented violinists of Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra – some of the many artists showcasing the beauty and extensive range of this beloved instrument on our stages and in our orchestra pits – to share their favourite music featuring the violin and why.
Brendan Joyce, Artistic Director
- Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major, Op.6 | Niccolo Paganini
“I guess it’s very stereotyped but the Paganini Violin Concerto in D Major [is my favourite]. The Finale movement is a bit of an earworm for me when I think of ‘classic’ old violin music.
“It’s so catchy and crazily virtuosic, even more so when it was written well over 100 years ago now. Paganini must have been truly remarkable. Technical standards are high these days, but how could he have played this in the 19th C. We surely know more now!”
Jonny Ng, Principal Violin & Education Manager
- Fratres | Arvo Pärt
“This exquisite piece appeals to me because of its mystical and meditative nature in contrast to the dramatic intensity Pärt captures within his minimalist approach.”
- Sonata for violin and piano | Stuart Greenbaum
“This sonata, written in 2000, explores the journey into space and back to Earth. Although the work can be enjoyed simply in its own right, reading about Greenbaum’s inspiration in composing the piece adds another wonderful dimension for the listener.”
- ‘Erbarme dich, mein Gott’. St Matthew Passion, BWV 244 | JS Bach
“I chose this simply because it is one of the most beautifully sad pieces of music ever written.”
- ‘Sanctus’. Requiem, Op.48: IV | Gabriel Fauré
“The French harmonies are ‘to die for’ and the soaring register of the violin never fails to move me.”
- ‘Beim Schlafengehen’. Vier Letzte Lieder | Richard Strauss
“Edwin Paling’s solo with Felicity Lott has to be one of the top pairings of this sublime work. My first-ever masterclass run by the Lanarkshire Youth Orchestra, when I was 14, was with Edwin Paling and I still remember the incredible sound when he demonstrated.”
- Concert for Piano, Violin and String Quartet, Op.21 | Ernest Chausson
“This is perhaps one of the most important French compositions of the last third of the 19th century, dedicated to the famous Violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. I love the sensual, brooding and overly romantic melodies that are passed through the voices of the string quartet, solo piano and violin.”
- Violin Sonata No.3 in C Major, BWV 1005: III. Largo | JS Bach (performed by Midori)
“I chose this because I love Midori’s tone, but above all else this is my favourite movement out of all of Bach’s Violin Sonatas and Partitas – it contains such intensely human emotion.
“A teacher once told me that Bach is like clear spring water – ‘you can see yourself in it, but you can also see through it’, and every time I listen to this movement I’m reminded of that comment.”
- Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major, Op.19: II Scherzo – Vivacissimo | Sergei Prokofiev (performed by Maxim Vengerov)
“I’m currently playing this piece and for the first time really learning to love the different colours, shapes and characters in Prokofiev. I’d always loved his ballet music but struggled with his instrumental works until I began this concerto. Additionally, the performer is Maxim Vengerov – my forever idol – who I think suits this piece magnificently.”
- Schindler’s List | John Williams
“Composer John Williams’ ‘Schindler’s List’ is an incredibly poignant piece of music, which uses the expressiveness of the violin to full effect. The premise of the historical grounding behind the music makes William’s score mark of ‘tenderly’ all the more moving, and his musical comment on the real-life Oskar Schindler’s saving of 1200 Jewish lives during the Holocaust is a well-crafted offering.”
- Scheherazade | Rimsky-Korsakov
“I love the scale of musical story telling in this piece. The solo violin weaves an intimate and alluring tale, which is then juxtaposed by a powerful orchestral sound.”
- ‘Passacaglia’, Rosary Sonata No.16 in G Minor for Solo Violin | Heinrich von Biber
“Biber creates such an incredibly diverse world of sounds here with just the solo violin. This along with the intriguing rhetoric of the collection of sonatas is what I find most interesting.”
- One Voice, East Meets West | Nigel Kennedy and the Kroke Band
“I enjoy listening to pretty much anything Nigel Kennedy plays, but this piece for me is a strong representation of why I do. Soulful music making; meaningful connections between artists from different cultures and backgrounds; creativity and artistry in violin playing.”
- Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47 | Jean Sibelius (performed by Maxim Vengerov)
“I had the great privilege of seeing Maxim Vengerov perform this beautiful piece of music in 2015 the week my son was born (I checked myself out of hospital in time to see it). It was magical!!”
- String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, D.810 ‘Death and the Maiden’ | Franz Schubert (performed by the Alban Berg Quartett)
“Camerata performed the string orchestra arrangement under the direction of Gerhard Schulz of the Alban Berg Quartett. It was one of my most memorable performances, and I love this piece!!”
Daniel Kowalik, Member of Camerata Artist-in-Residence, Orava Quartet
- Sonata for Violin and Piano in A: 1. Allegretto ben moderato | César Franck (performed by Kaja Danczowska, on violin, and Krystian Zimerman, on piano)
“Released on the DG label – this is, for me, one of the most underrated releases of all time.”
- Violin Concerto in D, Op.35, TH. 59: 1. Allegro moderato | Pyotr Tchaikovsky (performed by Janine Jansen)
“One of my favourite violinists, playing one of my favourite violin concertos.”
- Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47: I. Allegro moderato | Jean Sibelius (performed by Cho-Liang Lin)
“Probably my favourite violin concerto. This piece is a rollercoaster of emotions.”
Listen to the full playlist of music below.
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