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Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 61

1915; revised in 1921

Lyapunov’s Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 61, his only essay in the genre, was written in 1915; he completed it on 9 August of that year, and revised it in 1921, making it an exact contemporary of what is probably his most important chamber work, the Sextet Op 63 for piano, string quartet and double bass. Although the concerto was premiered in Petrograd on 22 November 1916 by the violinist I. R. Nalbandian, this was only with piano accompaniment: the first known performance with orchestra took place in Moscow on 19 December 1944, given by the violinist Yulian Sitkovetsky and an orchestra conducted by V. Degtyarenko. The revision, completed in Paris on 28 February 1921, was largely devoted to improving the solo part, in collaboration with the violinist and composer Joseph Achron.

Like a number of recent Russian concertos (eg Arensky’s for violin, Rimsky-Korsakov’s and Glazunov’s for piano) Lyapunov cast his Violin Concerto in a single large movement. It opens Allegro appassionato with a flowing yet dark-hued theme announced by the violin in its lowest register. The pervasive 3/4 time occasionally gives the music the character of a passionate waltz, and soloist and orchestra develop this theme with increasing ardour until the introduction of a gorgeous and melancholically expressive second subject, Un poco più tranquillo, which appears in F major (the relative major of D minor). After this has also been developed, and the first theme briefly restated, concluding what would normally be the exposition of a sonata-form movement, Lyapunov introduces a playful scherzo-like episode with a new, rather folk-like theme, which he ingeniously combines in counterpoint with the concerto’s opening theme.

Further development leads to an Adagio in D flat major that serves the concerto as a ‘slow movement’ and has its own mellifluous theme which the soloist decorates in filigree fashion. Within the Adagio is a magical central episode, in which the violin is accompanied by harp while in dialogue with the woodwind and muted strings. After this section the opening Allegro appassionato returns, initiating a recapitulatory section in which we not only re-encounter the second subject—now in D major—but also a return of the folk-like scherzando material. When this has run its course the soloist is finally allowed a large-scale unaccompanied cadenza of transcendental virtuosity, that draws together the work’s various threads and leads to a Più mosso, agitato coda in which the demands of the violin writing remain just as formidable. The coda culminates in a brief, passionate apotheosis of the Adagio theme before the fiery concluding bars that bring the concerto to an end in breathtaking style.

from notes by Malcolm MacDonald © 2012


Khachaturian & Lyapunov: Works for violin and orchestra
Studio Master: SIGCD312Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD312 track 2

Recording date
29 October 2011
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Anna Barry
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch & Brett Cox
Hyperion usage
  1. Khachaturian & Lyapunov: Works for violin and orchestra (SIGCD312)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: November 2012
    Download only
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