The Violin Concerto in C major Op 30 appeared nearly ten years after the Ballade
, and was dedicated to the famous French violinist Emile Sauret, who gave the first perfomance in Berlin in 1883. Cast in the usual three movements, it is a substantial full-blooded romantic work in every aspect, demanding exceptional virtuosity, but never for its own sake, and always subservient to the musical content. The first movement—Allegro comodo—is of considerable length but basically adheres to convention, and also serves as ample confirmation of Moszkowski’s ability and confidence in developing a coherent large-scale structure, thus belying his unjust reputation as being merely a competent composer of salon trifles. Set in compound time, four in a bar, graceful dotted dance-like rhythms abound, which bear some similarity to the figurations used in the Ballade
, alternating brilliant passagework with the introduction of syncopation and the appearance of the second subject. Moszkowski all but dispenses with the traditional cadenza, instead introducing three short improvisatory passages for the soloist, the last one of which appears before the recapitulation.
The second movement—Andante—is one of Moszkowski’s most inspired movements, introducing a lyrical main theme of uncommon beauty which contrasts with the following build-up in intensity and emotion. As the orchestra restates the opening theme, the soloist floats above, molto espressivo, in rhapsodic vein before the movement dies peacefully away.
The finale—Vivace—is the soloist’s tour de force, entering with a breathless 38-bar perpetuum mobile. The momentum is sustained and only briefly interrupted by a more lyrical counter-theme, which in turn gives way to a gypsy-like dance before the brilliant coda brings the work to a most exhilarating and exciting end.
from notes by Martin Eastick © 2004