Michael Emery – Violin Soloist January 20, 2019 – Concerto for Violin, A Minor, op 82 – Glazunov

Michael Emery

Concerto for Violin, A minor, op. 82                                         Alexander Glazunov

Moderato; Tranquillo; Andante; Allegro; Sempre animato                           (1865-1936)

The Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82, by Alexander Glazunov is one of his most popular compositions. Written in 1904, the concerto was dedicated to violinist Leopold Auer, who gave the first performance at a Russian Musical Society concert in St. Petersburg on 15 February 1905. The British premiere of the concerto followed just over a year later, under the direction of Sir Henry Wood and with Mischa Elman as soloist. The violin concerto is quite representative of Glazunov’s technically brilliant style.

Taking his structural lead from Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt, Glazunov designed his concerto as a continuous structure, introducing the soloist almost immediately, without the usual orchestral preamble. This haunting melody creates the impression it could go on spiraling forever; yet we are only a minute into the concerto when a cadence in the home key of A minor announces a brief transition that sets up the heart-rending second theme – another glowingly inspired idea that similarly creates a sense of expanding lyricism out of a series of short motifs. There follows a lively closing sequence that would normally relax into the central development section. Instead Glazunov moves us into the nostalgically reflective key of D flat and via a brilliant transformation of the opening theme segues into the slow movement without a break. One of the most enchanting melodies Glazunov ever penned is sounded by the soloist on the violin’s lowest string against a magical accompaniment of harp and divided cellos.

Further blurring the distinction between a single-movement structure and three-movements-in-one, Glazunov continues with the opening movement’s development section and recapitulation – initially via the work’s opening theme, and then the second subject – as if it was the most natural thing in the world. This segues directly into a glorious solo cadenza which would normally be expected to set up the final coda. In the event, quite unexpectedly, Glazunov launches into a joyous finale with an infectious trumpet-led theme that sounds like an escapee from Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien. This propels the soloist on a bracing helter-skelter ride of multiple stoppings, strumming pizzicatos, forced harmonics and Cossack high spirits, but not before announcing another unforgettable melody.

Michael Emery

Violin

As Senior Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College, Michael Emery directs the vibrant string program, working with talented students on solo, chamber music, and orchestral repertoire. Through the annual Skidmore String Festival, which he initiated in 2005, the Skidmore community has enjoyed residencies by several highly acclaimed quartets, including the Brentano, Manhattan, American, Ying, Talich, Meccore, and Dover.

Mr. Emery blends performance with teaching to create an active musical career. He has collaborated in chamber music with many international artists, including Ruggiero Ricci, Elizabeth Pitcairn, André-Michel Schub, and Emanuel Ax, and has performed in the Sibelius, Ludwig Spohr and Paganini International Violin Competitions. He is pleased to join his colleagues Jameson Platte, cellist, and Matthew Quayle, pianist, to form the Omega Trio, which will be touring internationally with piano trio repertoire as well as the Beethoven Triple Concerto.

Mr. Emery has coached and performed in several international summer music festivals including the Spoleto Festival dei 2Mondi and InterHarmony Music Festivals in Italy, Luzerne Music Center and KentMusic in New York, and Mahler Conservatory in Vienna.

He is concertmaster and frequent soloist with orchestras in New York and California, and has performed as soloist and concertmaster in Asia, as well as several major European cities.

Mr. Emery has performed in collaboration with many contemporary composers, including Gunther Schuller, Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, Ezra Laderman, Lowell Liebermann, Tommie Haglund, Richard Danielpour, and John Corigliano.

Mr. Emery earned his MM in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music as a scholarship student with Erick Friedman and Raphael Bronstein, and served as concertmaster of the Manhattan Symphony. At MSM he was selected to perform in masterclasses with Ruggiero Ricci and Henryk Szeryng, and as the violinist for the sonata class with Misha Elman’s longtime collaborative pianist, Joseph Seiger.

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