Movement 1: Moderato
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Agitato assai
For all his patchy career, his position as the leading violinist of his time is undisputed. He is regarded as the founder of modern violin playing. Following Tartini, his skill was unsurpassed until the appearance of Paganini, and his numerous compositions naturally concentrate upon his own instrument. He wrote twenty-nine violin concertos between about 1782 and 1805; they are important as ‘gap-fillers’ between Mozart’s and Beethoven’s but their quality puts them far above what that phrase implies. No 22 in Giazotto’s list is dated ‘c1792–7’.
A lengthy orchestral tutti creates an atmosphere of sombre expectation which is only marginally dispelled by the soloist’s contemplative entry. Here Viotti, the master violinist-composer, shows his paces in a well-constructed movement of contrasting moods in which display is neatly juxtaposed with thematic strength. The Adagio is a placid and beautiful interlude, the Agitato assai finale possesses an intriguing subdued urgency, and the whole work provides a valuable insight into the influences to which Spohr was exposed early on. Even Brahms came to admire this Viotti Concerto.
from notes by Robert Dearling © 1996