JEAN SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
Violin Concerto (1903, rev. 1905)
In his youth Jean Sibelius desperately wanted to be a violinist, but it was not to be. Fortunately for the world, his deep love of the instrument gave us his Violin Concerto, whose American premiere the New York Philharmonic mounted in 1906. When the soloist enters over a brief introduction by oscillating strings, it’s as though the violin were emerging from a pristine Nordic landscape. The second movement spins a melody of exquisite radiance; the final Allegro, opening with a galloping rhythm led by the timpani, is a breathless, non-stop showcase for the soloist’s brilliance. The masterful combination of ardent lyricism and virtuoso passages has made this concerto an audience favorite for more than a century.