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Music in the Making

Virtuosic Violins

Featuring melodic, energetic and flashy violin performances from Rice University and the University of Houston!


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On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, we’re listening to great compositions featuring the violin, performed by the amazing students and faculty members at the Shepherd and Moores Schools of Music.

Portait of Niccolo Paganini, history’s most celebrated violinist

Music in this episode:

Claude Debussy – Violin Sonata (1917)
Kirsten Yon, violin; Timothy Hester, piano
Moores Opera House

Our first selection is Debussy’s violin sonata, which in fact was Debussy’s final composition and his last public performance; he premiered the work with violinist Gaston Poulet in 1917. Different from many of his larger compositions, his violin sonata is noticeably short in length and thin in texture. Though while it might not be as lush as La Mer or Suite Bergamasque, you’ll still be able to recognize Debussy’s impressionistic touch within the simple brevity of this piece.

Andrew Norman – Gran Turismo (2004)
Violin Studio of Kirsten Yon; Michelle Perrin Blair, conductor
Moores Opera House

While writing this selection, composer Andrew Norman was inspired by the style of baroque string-writing. This means that each part is independent from the others and all players must perform with soloist and virtuosic qualities. Considering the concept, this work was appropriately written for eight violin soloists, though in this particular performance, the parts are multiplied for it to feature 20 violins in total.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Violin Concerto (1945)
Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra; Yi Zhao, violin; Larry Rachleff, conductor
Stude Concert Hall

Finally, a flashy violin composition by Erich Korngold, who spent most of his career working as a Hollywood film composer. As you listen, you’ll be able to hear his cinematic writing style carry over into his violin concerto. This was intentional, though, as Korngold used many of the themes from his 1930’s movie scores to complete this work.

This episode originally aired Sunday, October 4th, 2015. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical 91.7.