Movement 1: Preludio: Largo
Movement 2: Corrente e musette: Presto
Movement 3: Larghetto, adagio
Movement 4: Finale e capriccio: Allegro
The first movement starts with a slow Preludio, with baroque-like, traditional melody and harmony in ‘old style’, according to its name; only the romantic orchestration identifies the era of its composition. The theme of the first six bars in the orchestra serves as the basic material for this movement. Soon after the soloist’s entrance it moves from its tonic A minor to more remote tonalities, but never loses its harmonic foundation and returns safely to the home key. This feeling of harmonic stability is familiar from the old style the music emulates, complete with ‘Tierce de Picardie’ tonic major ending.
The second movement is a fast dance-like Corrente in triple time. A characteristic theme, starting with a pizzicato chord followed by jumpy quavers, provides the main subject of this movement. The ‘Musette’ middle section—named after a French bagpipe-accompanied dance here imitated by the continuous drone played by the solo violin’s open G-string—has the soloist’s melody (on the D string, simultaneously with the drone) accompanied by flutes and oboes. The repeated Corrente ends the movement. Some contemporary music critics believed this to be the best movement in Hubay’s music.
The third movement (Larghetto) introduces a religious prayer-like mood, with long-drawn, hushed melodic lines in romantic spirit. It offers a contrast to the previous dances. The main melody of the solo violin is followed by a poco animato section in minor key, with agitated double stops from the soloist. A middle section follows where the soloist polyphonically combines two melodies, after which the first theme returns. The movement ends after a calm coda recalling the previous polyphonic material.
In the Finale, after a syncopated orchestral opening, the soloist introduces a quick and angular theme, followed by passages of scales and arpeggios. This brilliant passagework culminates with a cadenza, this time not a very long one but nevertheless technically demanding. The concerto ends in an optimistic C major.
from notes by Amnon Shaham © 2003