Movement 1: Andante con moto
Movement 2a: Notturno. Allegro un poco tenuto
Movement 2b: Cadenza. Moderato
Movement 2c: Serenata
Movement 3: Allegro molto, un poco agitato
Weill’s approach to the concerto uses the soloist-versus-orchestra format, especially in the first movement, where it is expressed in the nature of the material allocated to each: the violin uses an increasingly agitated lyrical line to which the wind ensemble responds with angular, brittle rhythmic figures à la Stravinsky. After this heated dialogue, the second movement provides repose – though, unusually, it is divided into three parts, Notturno (where the violin duets with a xylophone), Cadenza (where the duo partner is now a trumpet) and Serenata (with flute), the titles and the music all bringing Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat to mind. The finale, marked Allegretto molto, un poco agitato, owes further debts to Stravinsky, not least its rhythmic unpredictability and a fondness for brittle bitonality; the wind-writing recalls Busoni’s orchestral manner very directly.
Although the score bears a dedication to Joseph Szigeti, the first performance was given by Marcel Darrieux with the Orchestre des Concerts Straram conducted by Walter Straram in Paris, on 11 June 1925. But the violinist who did most to promote the work over the coming years was Stefan Frenkel; indeed, he was to return to Kurt Weill’s music in 1930, when he transcribed seven pieces from Die Dreigroschenoper for violin and piano.
from notes by Martin Anderson © 2005