Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
In this masterclass, Professor Augustin Dumay is accompanied by young violinist student Vasily Smykov playing Tchaïkovski's Concerto. After listening carefully to Vasily Smykov's interpretation -cut short for it is very long-, he praises him on his technique and quality of sound. He assures him that these precious qualities will follow and help him during his career, however, professor Dumay proceeds to share a few hints to improve one's sensibility to Tchaïkovski's work. Augustin Dumay reminds us that Tchaïkovski often wrote pieces with ballet in mind, and that one's interpretation should take dancing (and therefore dancers) into account.
He then proceeds to explain that while one can master the technical aspect of music, the capacity to reflect intelligently upon it has no end and should be pursued indefinitely.
A piece introduction should feel like it is taking you somewhere,
A reminder of the importance of the spacing between the bow and violin,
The importance of phrasing over bow technique,
To interrogate oneself and the context of the piece before and while practising,
Not to fear a certain fever that can sometimes take hold of an orchestra.
Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 is Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski’s only concerto composed for violin. The piece is in three movements : Allegro moderato in D major, Canzonetta: Andante (G minor), and the Finale: Allegro vivacissimo (D major). The first movement begins in a sonatina arrangement that includes an introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, and finally a coda. An orchestra provides a quick introduction in D major until finally the soloist enters with a cadenza like response. Next, the solo starts the exposition with the cantabile main theme.This is followed by a masterful sequence of rapid scales and triads, and then a second theme is introduced in A major. Starting now from a point of calm, the music modulates as the mood intensifies and develops an elevated climax.
Simultaneously, the main theme is echoed by the accompanying orchestra.
Moving on to the development section, this segment starts with a series of chromatic shifts, ending in C major. The solo violin plays a light variation of the main theme, which is followed by a strong orchestral tutti of the main theme in F major. The music builds up to a cadenza characteristically Tchaikovskian — using some of the violin’s highest notes — which ends with a trill. The orchestra reemerges and recapitulation commences harking back to the original theme once again in D major.
Moving forward to the finale, a reprise of the second theme in D major takes place, which is then followed by “a race” between the soloist and the orchestra to the very end in a fast-paced coda.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Augustin Dumay’s feedback and comments.
He is Master in Residence at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth (Brussels) where he teaches young violinists of the highest level, most of them winners of major international competitions.
Augustin Dumay began his career in 1980 thanks to Herbert von Karajan, who invited him to play as a soloist with the Berliner Philharmoniker. Since then, he has gone on to perform with Europe’s best orchestras, including the Philharmonia, London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Mahler Chamber, Camerata Salzburg, Tonhalle Zürich, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Montreal Symphony, under the direction of S. Ozawa, C. Davis, C. von Dohnanyi, C. Dutoit, G. Rozhdestvensky, D. Zinman, Y. Temirkanov, K. Masur, W. Sawallisch, K. Sanderling, I. Fischer, as well as with the leading conductors of the new generation such as D. Harding, A. Gilbert, and R. Ticciati.
His duo with pianist Maria João Pires has toured the world several times. His fifty recordings for EMI and Deutsche Grammophon have won multiple international awards.
Born in Votkinsk, Russia on April 25th, 1840, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the son of a metalworker and a French immigrant, and the second of six children.
Young Pyotr showed an interest in music early on and, although destined to be a public servant at first, was placed under the care of a professional music teacher by his father shortly after the sudden death of his mother from cholera.
He travelled through Europe extensively and settled in St-Petersburg when he was a young man, to study music at the newly founded conservatory. Tchaikovsky had a very private life that was constantly under scrutiny due to his rising fame. He married a young woman to avoid questions about his sexual orientation, but was very unhappy. By 1878, he began to write music full time after finding a patroness outside Russia and wrote most of his most famous works such as the opera Eugene Onegin, the Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, and the Violin Concerto in D Major. Tchaikovsky grew tired of his busy city life and rented a place in the countryside, where he spent his days walking, reading, and composing music. He died of cholera in 1893 at the age of 53 after drinking unboiled water.
Tchaikovsky's legacy reaches many people thanks to a very emotionally involving and rich musical landscape that keeps seducing audiences all over the world.