Brahms’ concerto stands as one of the largest and most challenging works in the solo violin repertoire, and shows the two opposite sides of his creative mind – Brahms the songwriter and Brahms the symphonist. It is a song for the violin on a symphonic scale which exercises to the full his great powers of inventive development. Demanding extraordinary skills from the soloist, though never showy for its own sake, it encompasses tender lyricism, brilliant vigour and numerous Hungarian folk rhythms that Brahms himself so loved.
Listening to Rimsky-Korsakov’s capriccio is like walking through a kaleidoscope of stained glass. It is a masterpiece of both colour and music, with the dazzling instrumental colours playing an as important a part as the tunes and rhythms.
With the Russian Revolution raging in the background, Prokofiev hit upon the idea of writing his first symphony as though Haydn were still writing music in 1917. Nicknamed the Classical, the result is wonderfully light-hearted and whimsical, and not without a certain amount of impertinence for the classical form.
Shimmering muted strings and gently pulsating chords set the mood of Martucci’s nocturne, as they accompany a heartfelt melody in the violins, marked “espressivo” and with more than a hint of Wagner about it.