St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Dmitri Berlinsky (violin) and Itamar Golan (piano)

Dmitri Berlinsky (biography)

Itamar Golan (biography)


The programme includes:
Johannes Brahms
Sonata for Violin and Piano No 3 in D Minor

Sergei Prokofiev
Sonata for Violin and Piano No 2 in D Major

Maurice Ravel
Sonata for Violin and Piano
Tzigane, concert rhapsody for violin and piano

Listen to a soundbite

In his violin sonatas Johannes Brahms takes the same path “from elegy to tragedy” that he did in his symphonies. If the first two sonatas are imbued with light and serenity Sonata No 3 in D Minor performs the role of a tragic finale in the triad of works in this genre.
There are four sections in the sonata which brings it even closer to the genre of symphony music (the previous two sonatas have three sections). Each of the four sections is a separate stage in an unfolding drama that reaches its climax in the finale. In the music of the finale one can hear the contours of the initial Allegro intonation, while the passage as a whole is an impetuous movement, the energy and power of which could only be compared with the finale of Beethoven’s Kreutzer sonata.
The Sonata in D Minor was the last – and most vivid – embodiment of Brahms’ dramatic conceptualisation in the chamber music genre.

Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin and Piano Sonata, Op. 94, bis is an arrangement of the composer’s own Flute Sonata,&Nbsp;Op. 94.
Prokofiev spoke of how when working on the violin version of the sonata he took the advice of his friend David Oistrakh who first performed the sonata (the piano being performed by Lev Oborin). The arrangement required no particular effort from the composer as many of the passages that were initially written for the flute also turned out to be suitable for the violin. “The number of amendments to the flute part was minimal, and those that were essentially concerned the bowing. The piano part remained unchanged.”
Oistrakh recalled that when working on the piece he himself brought the composer several versions of the violin passages and Prokofiev, pencil in hand, made several notes and corrections on the sheet music and then chose the version that was most suitable for himself.
Immediately after the premiere the sonata won tremendous acclaim, and was also named Sonata for Violin and Piano No 2.


“On so many occasions I saw him almost literally tearing strips off a violinist, cellist, harpist or French horn player in order to procure their acknowledgement of certain performing mysteries and offer them the chance to explore fields highly untypical for their instruments with great impudence,” wrote one of Ravel’s friends about how Ravel would work on this or that composition for a solo instrument. For Ravel there was nothing that was impossible, and he never gave any notice whatsoever to remarks that this or that composition was “un-performable.”
The Sonata for Violin and Piano (1927) is one such work. It is dedicated to Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, a French violinist and friend of Ravel.
The three-part cycle is all that this work has in common with the classical understanding of the word “sonata.” The very opening of the first section (Allegretto) is unusual – the first oriental motif of the piano must be seized upon by the violin with total “indifference” and with no vibrato. There is nothing superfluous in the structure and it contains incredibly few notes – although this does not create any impressions of poverty, quite the reverse in fact – everywhere here one may see Ravel’s typical refinement and the subtle nature of his composition style. The second section (Blues) marked the genre’s first use in chamber music. Here the typical glissandi of the negro violins, the imitation of the sound of the guitar and the section itself in terms of structure are similar to a jazz improvisation. The finale (Perpetuum mobile: Allegro) is a kind of concert piece structured on the uninterrupted movement of sixteenths. Here virtuoso playing comes to the fore.
The Sonata was first performed by George Enescu and the composer in Paris on 30 May 1927. It later joined the repertoires of József Szigeti and Hélène Jourdan-Morhange and came to be performed throughout France as well as beyond.

Ravel composed his Tzigane rhapsody for violin and orchestra in 1924 and dedicated it to the London-based Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi. This work is an immense and virtuoso concert piece, the composition of which was a completely new task for the composer. Ravel was influenced by Liszt’s rhapsodies and Paganini’s caprices – the former in terms of the works’ form of composition and style, the latter in terms of their level of virtuoso demands on the performer. The solo was written in a dazzling concerto style while the score is marked with features of pure French elegance and colour typical of Ravel. The composer based the music on melodies from the  verbunkos style – or rather a stylised likeness thereof – which gave the rhapsody its name.
Pavel Velikanov

Age category 6+

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