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Maxim Vengerov violin Daniel Barenboim conductor Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
3rd Movement Allegro Ma Non Tanto
It was not until the late 1930s that this Concerto began to be accepted into our concert repertoire, largely championed by the late Jascha Heifitz. Earlier the distinguished scholar Sir Donald Tovey had described this movement, rather unkindly, as a "Polonaise for Polar bears", which tended to reflect reactionary opinion current some eighty years ago.
This movement falls into five distinct sections; D major, G minor, D major, D minor and D major. The four opening bars could only have been devised by Sibelius, violas, cellos, basses and timpani stress the rhythmic figure. With the entry of the soloist marked "energico" the orchestral forces are still of "chamber music" proportions and the whole sweeps along with great energy and eventually modulates into G minor for a bravura orchestral interlude.
Do we not hear the first cry of wild birds in the woodwind before the soloist's re-entry? And back in D major, the orchestra takes over the opening theme against a flurry of triplets, while the soloist virtually explores the whole range of the violin. A brief second orchestral interlude leads the soloist back to the theme, now one and a half tones higher, the first rung of the ladder to lift it even higher.
And so back into D minor, where fluid rising arpeggios from the soloist lead the orchestra into its third interlude, the opening theme still dominating. The soloist and orchestra now sweep on, the soloist exploring all the possibilities of the movement's theme with harmonies and complicated double and triple stopping, and the orchestra, hinting at the theme with a rhythmic (which has now become) an "ostinato" accompaniment.
With a slackening of dynamics the D major Coda is reached, and then with undiminished drive and virtuosity and with a full orchestral chord on the second beat of the third bar before the end, a chord which seems, in the humble opinion of the writer of these notes, to trip up the music into a truncated ending.