vanessa-mae's music pt-6

VA N E S S A - M A E ' S - M U S I C S

- Part. VI -

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Sample songs from The Classical Collection part.1 (album)

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Not many things were at all clear in my seven-year-old head except an absolute desire to play the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven violin concertos, Fickle as I was in just about everything else, I remained constant in my pursuit of this one ambition.

I was a frequent guest at the numerous cocktail and dinner parties my parents held in our family home. However, one night I decided that my pyjama party-girl days were over; I opted instead to stay in my room with my violin, trading small talk for new notes. Thus, long before my professor had even had a chance to add the Tchaikovsky concerto to my 'to learn' repertoire pile, it had already been fingered and memorised!

As for the Beethoven, when I first heard in the studio the opening tutti played by a live orchestra, I was so moved that I almost didn't want to come in. There were hushed moments when I could feel right through the music, through the silences and into every musician's heartbeats and thoughts, which seemed momentarily suspended in deep appreciation of what we were creating in that recording. The magic seemed mutual too, for at the end of the Larghetto the orchestra erupted into applause: a reaction common at the end of a fast and flashy allegro, but quite beautifully shocking at the end of this serene slow movement.

When I first decided to record a collection of my favourite short pieces, I did not make a conscious decision to include such a wide range of music. I simply gathered together a selection of my favourite tunes, tunes that appealed to me as a 12-year-old and that I thought would work with my violin. When playing and recording The Pink Panther or One Moment in Time, I approached the music with exactly the same attitude as I did with Kreisler or Tchaikovsky; that is, with the intention of communicating the unique emotions and sentiments that each piece contained. To me, it was unimportant that one piece of music had been written hundreds of years before another, and was therefore categorised as 'classical'. Many of these tunes were the 'pop' pieces of their day, and some of the more recent pieces will one day become 'classical' because of their staying power.

Many things about me have changed since I was 13 years old, but something that will always remain is my determination to play music that satisfies me, and never to be restricted by categories imposed arbitrarily from outside.

Vanessa-Mae : 2000

< taken from "The Classical Collection Part I" CD's booklet >


The Classical Collection Part I : Contains

CD 1 : Russian Album --- 51.54
  Dmitry Botisovich Kabalevsky (1904-1987) Violin Concerto in C Op.48
1. l. Allegro
2. ll. Andante
3. lll. Vivace giocoso
  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) Reduced Orch. by Christopher James
4. Russian Dance (Swan Lake) (1.61 mb)
  Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Op.35
5. l. Allegro moderato
6. ll. Canzonetta (Andante)
7. lll. Finale (Allegro vivacissimo)
CD 2 : Viennese Album --- 67.47
  Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) Orch. C.R. Roberts
1. Schon Rosmarin
2. Liebesleid
3. Liebesfreud
  Marius Casadesus (1892-1981) Violin Concerto in D "Adelaide" (in the style of Mozart) KAnh.294a
4. l. Allegro
5. ll. Adagio
6. lll. Allegro
  Cadenzas by Vanessa-Mae  
  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Violin Concerto in D Op.61
7. l. Allegro ma non troppo
8. ll. Larghetto
9. lll. Rondo (Allegro)
  Cadenzas by Kreisler  
CD 3 : Virtuoso Album --- 77.03
  ...inspired by the classics
1. Salut d'amour (Elgar orch. James)
2. Lullaby (Bramhs arr. James)
3. Air on the G String (J.S. Bach arr. Wilhelmj)
  ...inspired by the cinema  
4. My Favourite Things (Rodgers arr. James)
5. The Pink Panther (Mancini arr. James)
6. Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Legrand arr. Vanessa-Mae orch. James)
  ...inspired by pop culture  
7. One Moment in Time (Bettis arr. Vanessa-Mea orch. James)
8. Yellow Submarine (Lennon & McCartney arr. James ed. Vanessa-Mae)
   ...inspired by folk culture   
9. Frere Jacques (James)
10. La campanella (Paganini arr. Kreisler orch. James)
11. Chinese Folk Tune (Sze-Du arr. James)
12. Tambourin chinois (Kreisler orch. Artok)
  ...inspired by Opera  
13. Figaro (Castelnuovo-Tedesco arr. Heifelz orch. James)
14. Summertime (Gershwin arr. Heifetz orch. James)
15. Concert Fantasy on "Carmen" Op.25 (Sarasate)
16. Fantaisie brillante on themes from Gounod's "Faust" Op.20 (Wieniawski)


Russian Album

The emergence of a group of highly gifted Russian composers during the 19th century was one of the happier coincidences of musical history. The country had so far produced not one single composer of imternational stature. Then, inspired by Glinka's example of integrating Russian folksong into his operas and orchestral works, the St Petersburgers Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussogsky and Balakirev (all of them initially part-time 'amateurs') emerged as if by magic. Yet even their considerable achievements were dwarfed by Moscow's leading star, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose symphonies, ballets and concertos are among the most popular masterpieces in all music.

In March 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote to his publisher that he has 'hit upon an idea quite by chance, was carried away, and in no time my sketch was nearly finished'. The 'sketch' was the initial draft, completed in just two weeks, of his only violin concerto. Tchaikovsky had intended to dedicate the work to the great violin pedagogue Leopold Auer, but the latter flatly declared the concerto 'unplayable', and it was not until 1881 that the scntillating vertuoso Adolf Brodsky finally premiered it, in Vienna. The composer re-dedicated the piece to Brodsky, and inscribed a personal photograph 'To the re-creator of the concerto deemed impossible, from the grateful Pyotr Tchaikovsky'.

Yet the premiere itself was a far from happy event. In the middle of the performance a dispute broke out in the audience between rival conservative and modernist factions, the latter - perhaps surprisingly - in support of the concerto. The influential pro-Brahms critic Eduard Hanslick gleefully stuck the knife in, accusing the work of 'bringing us face to face for the first time with music that we can actually hear stink'. From such inauspicious beginnings the piece nonetheless quickly established itself as one of the most popular of all concertos.

Tchaikovsky's ballets feature dazzling violin solos for te leader, and many of these have become highlights in the solo violinist's repertoire. The most challenging is the 'Russian Dance' in Swan Lake. Very seldom played, it is always omitte from the ballet in the West. Even in Russia, it makes only a very occasional appearance in the hands of an exceptionally accomplished leader.

Seventy years later, Kabalevsky composed his own violin concerto under the shadow of sterner criticism: the watchful eye of political masters. In January 1948, Andrei Zhdanov, perhaps the feared and hated of all Stalin's henchmen, publicly declared that certain composers were not sufficiently straightforward and optimistic in their work; Kabalevsky was on his list. The latter's response was to write an intentionally upbeat, emotionally uncomplicated, easily assimilated piece, overflowing with catchy tunes. The winning result has become one of the composer's most popular works, as much a pleasure to play as it is to listen to.


Viennese Album

By the time Russia's composers has first begun to establish themselves, Vienna had been the musical capital of Europe for over half a century: its matchless roster of composers included Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and, perhaps most notably of all, Ludwig van Beethoven.

The premiere of Beethoven's only completed violin concerto on 22 December 1806 was hardly trouble-free, however. For a start, the work was played virtually at sight, as the composer has been working in it up until the vera last moment. In addition, the performance was not continuous: the first movement came before the interval, and the rest followed only after the popular soloist, Franz Clement, had played one of his own compositions on one string with the violin held upside-down.

According to one review, the audience was unsure what to make of the piece at first: 'As regards Beethoven's concerto, the verdict of the experts is unanimous, allowing it many beauties, but recognising that its schemes often seems confused and that the unending repetitions of certain commonplace parts could easily prove wearisome.' Indeed, it was only after a historic concert given in London in 1844 by the 12-year-old prodigy Joseph Joachim (conducted by the composer Felix Mendelssohn) that this glorious work finally won a permanent place in the repertoire. Remarkably, Vanessa-Mae played and recorded this milestone among concertos at much the same age.

A century after Beethoven and the Viennese tradition had become firmly devided between the revolutionary new soundworld of Schoenberg and his followers and the nostalgia-laden utterances of such as Richard Strauss and the hugely popular violinist-composer Fritz Kreisler (whose cadenzas Vanessa-Mae plays in the Beethoven concerto). With his captivating miniatures, among them Schon Rosmarin, Tambourin chinois (heard on the final disc of this set) and those beloved bed-partners Liebesleid and Liebesfreud, Kriesler delighted - and continues to delight - audiences the world over.

At least three violin concertos have at one time or another had Mozart's name erroneously attached to them. The one known as the 'Adelaide' is so charmingly melodious and engaging that no less a fugure than Yehudi Menuhin took it up and recorded it, while the composer Paul Hendemith even went so far as to write cadenzas for it (Vanessa-Mae uses her own on this recording). In the event, this delightful piece turns out to be the work of the violinist Marius Casadesus, one of a renowned family of musicians that produced a number of such 'old masters'. He initially presented it at a concert in Paris in 1931 as a hitherto unpublished work by Mozart, dedicated to Adelaide, daughter of Louis XV, which he had merely edited and orchestrated. Interestingly, Kreisler played much the same trick, passing off a number of his own compositions as neglected works from the past; famously, virtually all the critics were taken in hook, line and sinker.


Virtuoso Album

Vanessa-Mae opens her collection of virtuoso favourites with three classical solos that began life somewhat differently. Elgar's Salut d'amour was originally written for solo piano; no doubt aware of its commercial potential, the composer swiftly arranged it for string orchestra and for violin and piano, and it rapidly established itself as one of the top-selling pieces of the day. Similarly, Brahms )who wrote some of the finest original violin music in the repertoire) brought his enchanting Lullaby into the world as a song with piano accompaniment. Most notably of all, the ravishing Air from Bach's Third Orchestral Suite was adapted for violing and piano in the 19th century by the German virtuoso August Wilhelmj. His arrangement instructs that the melody should be played entirely on the lowest (G) string, and the popular nickname has stuck ever since.

The violin's adaptability has ensured its survival for over 400 years. It is as effective in salon miniatures as it is playing centre-screen in the world of the cinema, as is evidenced by Vanessa-Mae's own sparkling intepretations of music by Michel Legrand (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg - 'The Umbrellas of Chergourg', in her own arrangement), Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther, the unforgettable title music to the first of the Inspector Clouseau films) and Rodgers and Hammerstein ('My Favourite Things' from The Sound of Music).

Now recognised the world over as one of the great ambassadors for both classical and pop. Vanessa-Mae gives us here a hint of things to come with her own versions of songs by Carpenters favourite John Bettis (One Moment in Time, in her own arrangement) and Lennon and McCartney (Yellow Submarine). Inspiration has also often been drawn from the music of national folk cultures, whether in the form of original pieces - such as the violin wizard Paganini's unmis-takably Italian La campanella and the quicksilver 'oriental' inflections of Kreisler's Tambourin chinois - transcriptions such as the Chinese Folk Tune and Frere Jacques.

Our final inspiration is the world of opera. The unforgettable 'Summertime', that show-stopper from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, is heard in an arrangement by Jascha Heifetz. The 'violinist of the century' was also responsible for the transcription of his friend Mario Castenuovo-Tedesco's Figaro (itself based on Rossini). This fiendishly difficult show-piece has only ever featured in the 'live' concert repertoire of two violinists: Heifetz and Kogan. It appeared on Vanessa-Mae's concert programmes from a young age, and one of her televised early performances of this piece with the New Belgian Chamber Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Antwerp remains a testament to her amazing precocity. Finally, two exhilaratiing pot-pourris that spin a web of technical intricacy around themes from two of the most popular operas of all time: Sarasate's Concert Fantasy on 'Carmen' and Wieniawski's Fantaisie brillante on themes from Gounod's 'Faust'.

Julian Haylock, 2000

< refer to : "The Classical Collection Part I" CD's booklet >
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