CONCERTO for VIOLIN in D MAJOR, Op. 35A
PAUL ZUKOFSKY, violin
THE NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY ORCHESTRA
conducted by FREDERIK PRAUSNITZ
The Spirit of an art-work, the measure of emotion, of humanity, that is in it - these remain unchanged in value through changing years; the form which these three assumed, the manner of their expression, and the flavor of the epoch which gave them birth, are transient, and age rapidly.
This quote, from the opening of Busoni's Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, is a quite relevant description of the history of this concerto. Composed in 1896-97 for Henri Petri, it never entered the repertory, and the only major violinist to perform the work was Josef Szigeti.
Why the concerto never became a favorite with performers is today hard to imagine, in comparison with some of the concertos that did. Unfortunately, Busoni's music was too "avant-garde" for most of the violinists of his time, and then promptly became "too romantic", without any period of transition. Newer performers who looked upon the romantic concerto as a vehicle for virtuosity only were incapable of evaluating its musical content.
The concerto is in three main sections played without pause. While the solo part is extremely brilliant, there is no "cadenza" as such. The three main sections follow the classical concerto pattern of fast-slow-fast, the "slow" section starting ca. 7:52; the third section starting ca. 17:52. In the chronology of Busoni's music, the concerto precedes his Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 36A, the work that he himself considered his first fully matured composition.