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Beethoven, Violin concerto /

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Beethoven wrote only one violin concerto, but it is one of music's all-time indisputable masterpieces. As Robin Stowell notes in his preface to this scholarly, but quite readable, volume, it is "the only major violin concerto composed between Mozart's five concertos of 1775 and Mendelssohn's E minor Concerto Op. 64 (1844). As a model of melodic invention, spaciousness of design, sheer clarity, and logic of organization, the Concerto has no equals." It has earned a favored place in the repertoire of virtually every violinist of note, and in the hearts of discerning listeners. In this fine addition to the Cambridge Music Handbooks series, Stowell examines the origins of the concerto and influences on it, its structure and style, and its performance history. At its premiere in Vienna in 1806, the reception was mixed; the critic Johann Nepomuk Moser wrote that it was: "Burdened with a host of unconnected and piled-up ideas, and a continual tumult of different instruments... [the listener] could only leave the concert with an unpleasant sense of exhaustion." Fortunately, we hear things quite differently now. This is a useful volume for the specialist, or for anyone who wants to know as much as possible about this great work. --Sarah Bryan Miller

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