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Fantasia appassionata, Op 35
Vieuxtemps’s Fantasia appassionata Op 35 was probably written shortly after the Fifth Violin Concerto, in 1860. Unlike the concertos this is more frankly a vehicle for transcendental technical display, but expertly cast in a single movement of several effectively contrasted sections that achieves a balanced form as well as the exhibition of the player’s prowess. The overall tonality of the piece is G, beginning in the minor mode and ending in the major. The opening, Allegro moderato, is stern and dramatic, the soloist first playing in unison with the orchestral violins and then breaking out in an impassioned dialogue with the orchestra. The ensuing Andante balances this first section with pathos and graceful melody, before the turbulent mood returns briefly to make a transition to a new section, Moderato.

Here the tonality changes to G major, for a sweetly sentimental song in ballad-style from the violin, con grazia and molto espressivo. Vieuxtemps follows this with a section headed ‘Variation’, which is a much-elaborated and decorated version of the Moderato theme, becoming increasingly florid as the music continues. An intervening orchestral tutti recalls the music of the work’s opening before we move into a B major Largo section. Here the violin rhapsodizes ecstatically on a new, romantically inclined melody, with Poco più mosso orchestral rumblings in the middle which provoke the soloist to new prodigies of gypsy-style virtuosity. A tranquil return to the Largo theme carries the solo line to stratospheric heights before the Finale section abruptly breaks in. Vieuxtemps terms this a Saltarella, and the impulsive, insouciant rhythm of the Italian dance proves the perfect vehicle for him to throw every possible challenge in the way of his interpreter. The effect is to dissipate the conflicting passions of the previous parts of the Fantasia in merriment and good-fellowship, but with the violin claiming the admiration of all for its dumbfounding exhibition displays of technical prowess.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67798 track 8
Recording date
10 July 2009
Recording venue
Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven, Netherlands
Recording producer
Alexander Van Ingen
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan & Peter Newble
Hyperion usage
  1. Vieuxtemps: Violin Concertos (CDA67798)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: May 2010
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