In today's Sun: Hear the Stradivarius that inspired Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto
In case you missed this elsewhere in the Sun, I've got a story about violinist Vadim Gluzman, who will be the soloist for the Tchaikovsky concerto this weekend with the Annapolis Symphony, performing on the Stradivarius the composer had in mind when he wrote the piece.
The instrument's owner at the time, Leopold Auer, famously rejected the concerto, which Tchaikovsky intended to dedicate to him. Auer dismissed it as unplayable. The joke was on Auer, of course, but he did recant later on and championed the work to great effect.
More importantly, perhaps, he passed along his late-blooming enthusiasm to his students, who happened to include some of the greatest fiddlers of the 20th century.
Gluzman, who has been able to play the Strad on loan for 13 years, told me a fascinating thing about the deep-toned instrument (so deep he sometimes thinks, "Oh my God, that sounds like a viola") -- it also inspired ...
Glazunov's concerto. "Both begin on the same low string (G) and on the same note (A)," the violinist said. "I don't think it is a coincidence."
That got me to thinking about how rare it is to hear the Glazunov concerto (Gluzman calls it "an absolutely brilliant piece in every way, but rather difficult for both the soloist and the conductor"), or any of his music, for that matter, in concert halls these days. Outside of Russia, it seems he isn't considered serious enough. Too bad.
Anyway, it should be very cool to hear in person the sound Tchaikovsky imagined while composing his Violin Concerto. Maybe someone in the area will invite Gluzman back soon to perform Glazunov's. I couldn't find a video sample of him playing either concerto, but here he is demonstrating his artistry -- and the dark warmth of the Auer Strad -- in music by Brahms: