Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and violinist Michael Barenboim with beloved violin concerto by Bruch. Plus, Rossini's Stabat Mater, a surprising piece for within the typical religious genre, in an operatic style characteristic of Rossini.
“In my youth,” wrote composer Max Bruch, “I studied the violin and persisted in my studies for four to five years. Even though I was not a skilled player, I learnt to love the instrument. In my eyes, the violin was the king of instruments and it was quite natural for me to start composing music for this instrument at a young age.” Bruch composed his First Concerto for the instrument he loved so much over a period of eight years. Following its premiere, the concerto returned to the work table to receive its final form – a unique form in which the first movement (contrary to tradition) acts as an introduction, a prelude to the climax in the third movement. The work has a gypsy flavor as in the concertos of Brahms and Tchaikovsky and its dizzy rhythm quickly triumphs on the stage and in the concert hall.
The background to the composition of Rossini’s “Staber Mater,” involves a chain of events that will enthrall and amuse lawyers and fans of intricate legal cases. As for the music, that’s another story. The special versification of the liturgical hymn, which describes a mother’s grief as she stands by her dying son, captured hearts across generations and led to numerous versions of the hymn, the most famous of which is Pergolesi’s which Rossini was acquainted with. The work is full of charm and operatic hues, and the music is so moving that cantors adapted it to Jewish texts even though the mother referred to in the text is the mother of Jesus. The work was received with acclaim. French poet Theophile Gautier wrote that: “It possesses nobility, simplicity and seriousness” while German poet Heinrich Heine wrote that it had “eternal grace and irresistible tenderness; it seemed to me like a vestibule to heaven.” The audience here too was left enthralled.