Programme Guide

“A violinist of real substance,” was how Gramophone magazine described Nikolaj Znaider – a musician “who is not afraid to go his own way and say something different. There is an ardour to his playing that makes a refreshing change from the ‘safe’ performances delivered by some young virtuosos”. In this recording, Znaider makes a guest appearance with the Berliner Philharmoniker with the Violin Concerto by Jean Sibelius. He plays on his precious violin: the legendary “Guarneri del Gesù” once owned by Fritz Kreisler. 

This concert also sees the debut of the young Slovak conductor Juraj Valcuha who made several more debuts during the 2011/12 season, including with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. In addition to Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, the musicians also perform Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony and Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to the opera Euryanthe: two works that are not often heard in the concert hall, although they are both prime examples of the verve and colour we associate with Romantic music.

Jean Sibelius still breathed life into Romanticism well into the 20th century, when his fellow composers had long since started looking for new sound worlds. His Violin Concerto also captivates with its dark colouration, folk flavour and impressive virtuosity. Perhaps the reason why the concerto conveys more than mere surface gloss is the fact that Sibelius was an excellent violinist himself, and knew how to elicit the finest nuances of expression from the instrument.

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