On May 22, 2020, the Berlin Philharmonic will live-stream a performance of Andrzej Panufnik’s Violin Concerto. Written in 1971 for violin and string orchestra, the composer said this of his Violin Concerto:
When Yehudi Menuhin asked me to compose a violin concerto for him, I immediately had in mind his unique spiritual and poetic qualities and I felt I should provide a vehicle which would accentuate these rare gifts, and not obscure his deep inner musicianship by virtuoso pyrotechnics.
I treated the violin as a singing instrument so, though keeping within my strict self-imposed discipline of sound-organisation, I constructed rather long and unbroken melodic lines. To further expose the solo part and keep it ever-prominent, as well as to achieve a specific colour and texture, I chose to use an orchestra consisting only of strings.
This piece was one of three works that Panufnik himself conducted upon his first trip back to Poland in 1990. Returning after a 36-year-absence, he visited Poland as honorary guest of the 1990 “Warsaw Autumn” Festival, where he conducted his Symphony No.10, Harmony and Violin Concerto on a program that featured eleven of his works.
Daniel Stabrawa, first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic since 1986, is one of the orchestra’s most familiar faces. In this concert you can encounter him as both soloist and conductor – namely in the wonderfully graceful Violin Concerto No. 1 by the just 17-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We will also hear the Violin Concerto by Andrzej Panufnik, as original as it is soulful, and to close, we hear another youthful work: Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, enchanting in its optimism and luminous elegance.