'When I am performing, I often compare myself to an artist with a vast palette of colours. The Sibelius really challenges me to think about what kind of painting I am creating for the audience.' ~ April Ju
Sibelius wrote only this one Violin Concerto. He would have loved to première it himself – if only his performance technique had kept up with his compositional genius.
The initial encouragement for Sibelius to write this concerto came from his friend Willy Burmester. But a scheduling error prevented him from taking part in the première, and another violinist was called in to play the solo part – but without enough preparation. The première was a fiasco. After that, the composer prepared a new, tighter version that trimmed away some of the excessively showy solo writing of the original. Richard Strauss conducted the première of the revised version.
Despite the early enthusiasm of a few violinists for this revised concerto, it was slow to catch on with audiences – and it wasn’t until Jascha Heifetz took up the work and recorded it in the 1930s, that it became the popular addition to the repertoire that it is today.
Recorded at the National Concerto Competition on 19 June 2021 in James Hay Theatre, Christchurch by RNZ Concert
Producer/sound engineer: Darryl Stack