German composer Paul Hindemith wrote concertos for nearly every instrument in the orchestra. Here you get a concert for one of the most common instruments, the violin, along with two distinctively textured orchestral works, the giant Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by C.M. von Weber and the somewhat obscure Konzertmusik für Streichorchester und Blechbläser (Concert Music for Strings and Brass Instruments), the earliest piece on the program (it was written in 1930).
Miklos Rózsa arrived in Hollywood in 1940 after study in Leipzig and a stint in Paris where Arthur Honegger encouraged him to compose music for films. In California he found a strong community of expatriate composers including Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Korngold, and some of the finest instrumental soloists then active, including Heifetz, Rubinstein and Piatigorsky.
If you're going to record the fiendishly difficult and vibrant violin and cello concertos of Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, magnificently clean, virtuosic, and sensitive performances are absolutely essential for soloists and orchestra alike. Fortunately, that is precisely what is achieved on this recording featuring violinist Arabella Steinbacher, cellist Daniel Muller-Schott, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Gérard Lesne founded the Il Seminario musicale Ensemble in 1985. Since 1990, the Ensemble has been in residence at the Royaumont Foundation, where it attracts vocalists and instrumentalists who share Lesne's enthusiam for the 17th and 18th century Italian repertoire. The musicians perform on old instruments and strive to reproduce as faithfully as possible the lilt and narrative line characteristic of the baroque style as expressed in works by composers such as Monteverdi, Cavalli, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Caldara, Pergolesi, and the others. The size of the ensemble is variable depending on the repertoire. Based on a rich and varied continuo section (theorbo, cello, basson, double bass, organ and harpsichord) supporting one or more soloists, it can be expanded with the addition of a string quartet to make a small chamber orchestra suitable for performing chamber operas. Responsibility for the Ensemble's musical direction is shared by the instrumentalists and vocalists.
The last of his orchestral compositions and one of his most enduringly popular pieces, Mendelssohn's violin concerto is as much a crowd-pleaser now as it was when premiered by Ferdinand David and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1845. Its unassuming focus on melody and dynamic interaction between soloist and orchestra – rather than merely on technical feats and virtuosic showmanship – ensures its place at the heart of the violin concerto repertoire.
Perlman's Elgar has always caused consternation among English critics, largely because it's so much better played from a purely technical point of view than any performance by an English violinist. With its relatively swift tempos, the performance is sometimes judged to be lacking in repose and "inwardness," whatever that is. All of this is complete nonsense. Perlman's playing of this extremely long and difficult concerto places it squarely in the grand Romantic tradition, which is precisely where it belongs.