Spanish violinist María Dueñas beguiles audiences with the breath-taking array of colours she draws from her instrument. Her technical prowess, artistic maturity and bold interpretations have inspired rave reviews, captivated competition juries, and secured invitations to appear with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.
Maria Dueñas is the soloist in this concert, recorded in January 2023 in the Musikverein Vienna. The Spanish violinist, still only 20 at the time, performs Beethoven's lyrical but hugely demanding violin concerto, incorporating her own virtuosic cadenzas. For the work, which forms the centrepiece of her debut album on the Yellow Label, she is accompanied by Manfred Honeck conducting the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
In the second half of the concert, Honeck and the orchestra turn to Austrian composer Franz Schmidt's moving final symphony, an elegiac masterpiece composed in memory of his daughter and premiered in the Musikverein in 1934.
Franz Schmidt was one of the last major composers in the Austro-Hungarian romantic tradition. Born in Bratislava (known at the time as Pressburg), he trained as a virtuoso organist, pianist and composer (his teachers briefly included Anton Bruckner) before joining the Vienna Court Opera as a cellist. Here, he came into contact with Mahler and Schoenberg (with whom he played chamber music), although his own compositions followed a very different stylistic path. His first two symphonies (1902 and 1913) brought him recognition as a composer, although his opera Notre Dame (premiered in Vienna in 1914) made an even wider impact. After World War I he focused on a career as a teacher at Vienna Conservatory, writing chamber music and a Schubert-inspired Third Symphony (1928), as well as numerous works for the one-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein. Tragedy blighted his personal life and the death of his daughter, as well as the darkening political climate, gave a powerful emotional force to his elegiac Fourth Symphony (1934), which he described as "a requiem for my daughter“.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61
Symphony No. 4 in C Major
Berceuse, Op. 20
María Dueñas, violin
Manfred Honeck, conductor