We are excited to announce that today our first recording on the Deutsche Grammophon classical music record label has been released.
The CD was recorded with violinist Francesca Dego and conductor Daniele Rustioni at Symphony Hall in 2016 and 2017, and consists of two violin concertos: Paganini's First Violin Concerto in D Major (Op.6) and the Wolf-Ferrari Violin Concerto of which Francesca gave the UK premiere earlier this year.
Below is an excerpt from Francesca's CBSO programme Q&A in March 2017:
You’ll be performing Wolf-Ferrari’s Violin Concerto tonight, a piece that not many people in the audience will have heard before – what can you tell us about it?
I like to think of Wolf-Ferrari’s work as a German-style Romantic concerto with a bel canto soul. It is doubtless born of love, the composer’s platonic infatuation for the young Guila Bustabo, dedicatee of the work. It was written towards the end of World War II and the contrast with the barbarity of that dramatic time is almost callous.
There is a succession of warm Mediterranean passages, a light Mendelssohnian finale, a dense recitative with elements that might recall the first movement of the Bruch concerto, virtuosity à la Paganini, and, in the Romanza, an almost Mozartian theme.
Theatre, however, reigns supreme. The violin is the prima donna dominating the scene like the soprano in an opera by Puccini, flowing into a long cadenza in the Finale that recalls the ‘love theme’ at the heart of the first movement.
Wolf-Ferrari is undoubtedly a composer who looks to the past, fondly and with elegance, in an age when innovation, progress, rebellion but also drama and crudeness are the currency in use, and tradition is seen as an enemy to root out. This may definitely be considered one of the reasons this wonderful piece was undeservedly neglected for so long.
How do you approach a new piece of music that you’ve never performed before?
Reading as much as possible about the composer’s time makes it easier to focus completely on what I am doing. I love to dive headlong into a work’s cultural and artistic context and historical background, especially if I haven’t previously played other pieces by the same composer. If I’m learning a piece of chamber music or a concerto I also start studying the score and listening to available recordings (if they exist) before I actually pick up the violin. Then I guess I just start at the beginning and tackle instrumental and technical obstacles as they arise. The mechanical work needed in learning new repertoire is part of a deeper process that involves delving into phrasing and tone production, thus effectively starting to build an interpretation.
What’s it like to play the national premiere of a piece of music as you are doing tonight?
The fact I will be performing the UK premiere of the Wolf-Ferrari is really exciting. We are talking about a Concerto written 73 years ago! I have premiered various contemporary pieces, in some cases even seen them come to light by helping the composers with advice about the violin part, which I find fascinating and totally humbling. In this case I feel a strong historical responsibility towards the Concerto and I really hope the audience at Symphony Hall will enjoy it as much as I do!