Hyperion Records

Violin Concerto No 4 in E major, Op 23
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The Violin Concerto No 4 in E major, Op 23 is among David’s most substantial compositions with orchestra. The first movement’s short opening tutti is broadly Classical in outlook, opening with a suave theme for strings and woodwind that is immediately contrasted with a perky march tune for wind instruments and a more lyrical, Mendelssohnian string melody. The violin enters con fuoco in an expressive counter-exposition of this material at much greater length and volubility. A turn to C major instates a Mendelssohnian tune, dolce ed espressivo, as a full-blown second subject, rising to an emotional climax. The rhythms of the march tune then serve as the propulsive power for a development centred almost entirely on the volatile solo line. After a short dramatic orchestral tutti, solo and orchestra combine in a recapitulation which could be described as a second development, because of the remarkably expressive and fluid variants and decorations continually being introduced by the violin. The second subject returns in C major but moves tutta forza into the tonic E. In the coda the solo writing grows yet more ornate and brilliant.

The slow movement, an Adagio cantabile in C major, has a beautiful, almost hymn-like opening tune, at first accompanied only by strings. Discreet chromatic turns of phrase do not detract from the tenderness of this charming music. A more agitated theme in A minor (appassionato) introduces a troubled middle section, and then the opening tune returns against a murmuring viola counterpoint in A major before being stated grandly by the soloist with triple- and quadruple-stopping in C major. The more agitated theme returns briefly before a peaceful coda. Although the principal focus of all three movements is (of course) the violin, David scores for the orchestra with exemplary sensitivity and delicacy, and this movement is a prime example of that virtue.

The finale is an Allegretto grazioso sonata-rondo in jig time, with a pert, capricious main subject, immediately presented with scintillating violin virtuosity. A flamboyant risoluto is the first episode, followed by a suaver, dolce subject. A return of the main subject leads to a rumbustious tutti, out of which emerges a timpani solo, with which the violin dialogues before returning to the rondo tune. The dolce melody reappears in the tonic E major, until the jig tune takes over again. The timpanist now urges the music forward into a capricious coda, Presto, in which the violin drives merrily to the finish. Though this is in many ways a display concerto, it is rather unusual in that it does not contain a cadenza.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

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