Josef Slavìk’s Violin Concertos Restated – A World Premiere Long Overdue

Josef Slavìk : Violin Concertos no.1 and no.2, Città di Ferrara Orchestra, Marco Zuccarini (conductor), Laura Marzadori (violin), Pedemonte, Italy, 30.6.2011 (GLV)

On June 30th, 2011, in the beautiful court of the Palladian Villa Santa Sofia in Pedemonte, near Verona, a musical event of the first rank was seen and heard: the world premiere of both Violin Concertos by Czech composer Josef Slavìk (1806-1833), the young and virtuoso bohemian violinist, who died prematurely in Budapest. He was the dedicatee of Schubert’s Fantaisie in C major op. 159 and Rondo Brillante op. 70 for violin and piano, and was highly appreciated by Paganini and Chopin.

The First Violin Concerto (of 1823) is in f sharp minor and brings together the entire arsenal of Paganinian virtuoso violin playing. Paganini had not yet published his Concertos at the time, but his Caprices were already in print and well known all over Europe, so that the young Slavìk had the opportunity of applying them to his first Violin Concerto. There much Paganini, but also some original bohemian flair in this piece, especially in the slow passages, and the Concerto, in one movement (allegro maestoso), is enriched by a cadenza by Vojtech Frait (1894-1971), a pupil of Ondricek, three pages black with notes of tremendous difficulty.

The Second Violin Concerto is in a minor, and was composed in 1832, reflecting the influence of Chopin, Slavìk’s frequent duo partner. This work is also in one movement, allegro moderato, but it has a different and highly mature construction, and could easily be defined a “Chopin Violin Concerto”, if ever a Violin concerto had been composed by this great pianist, for its rythms as well as for the highly compelling and attractive melodies. Once again, a supervirtuoso and beautiful cadenza was performed, composed by Jaroslaw Vanecek.

At the bow, the young 22-year-old Italian violinist Laura Marzadori, a pupil of Salvatore Accardo and Marco Fornaciari, impressed all those present by playing with the fire and elegance of the great violinists of the past. She already has a world premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s Violin Concerto in A major under her belt, recorded on a successful CD by Naxos , but these two Slavìk Violin Concertos deserve a first world recording as well, as they shed light on a violinist composer who is also the author of other interesting pieces for solo and accompanied violin.

The Città di Ferrara Orchestra, a young yet valuable ensemble, was conducted by the Accademia Chigiana scholar Marco Zuccarini with competence and ardour, also in the introductory compositions, two Lyrical Pieces by Grieg, op.68, (“Abend in Hochgebirge” and “An der Wiege”). The concert was concluded, with great success, with Schubert’s Third Symphony.

Gianluca La Villa

Note: This review was sent to us spontaneously by Sgr La Villa.  We are very grateful to him for reporting this unusual and interesting concert.  (Eds)