Niels W. Gade, Violin Concerto op. 56: Supplementary comments to the critical edition, NWGW I:12 (2003)

Peder Kaj Pedersen

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Abstract

NIELS W. GADE VIOLIN CONCERTO OP. 56: SUPPLEMENTARY COMMENTS TO THE CRITICAL EDITION
In 2003 the critical edition of Niels W. Gade’s Violin Concerto in D minor Op. 56 was published in the edition Niels W. Gade Works, Series I: Orchestral Works / Volume 12, edited by Peder Kaj Pedersen. The scores published in the GW are both scholarly and practical, and in June 2009 a new recording of this rarely performed concerto, with the Danish violinist Christina Åstrand as soloist and using the edition of GW, was issued by Dacapo Records.
The preface of the edition summarizes aspects of the immediate reception: the concerto, written in 1880, was performed several times in the following years but never gained a position in the international repertory. Influential soloists did not include it in their concert programs. In the press reception the concerto was acclaimed for the high artistic and technical level of the solo part, but the value of the concerto as a coherent cyclic work was questioned. The fact that Gade actually worked with the cyclical coherence of the concerto is documented in the description of sources of GW I:12; only the final version, however, is printed in the edition according to the principle in GW of publishing the music in “Fassung letzer Hand”.
The paper examines Gade’s considerations about other, abandoned, solutions of cyclical problems, and it develops traits of the reception beyond what is discussed in the preface, including a broader selection of critics and a hitherto unknown letter from Gade to the German violinist Carl Louis Bahrgeer (1831-1902), kept in the Lippische Landesbibliotek, Detmold, and not included in the edition of letters to and from Gade (edited by Inger Sørensen 2008).
The Åstrand-recording of the concerto was published together with two other Danish violin concertos under the headline: “Danish Romantic Concertos”. The word Romantic is a key word: Romanticism and the part of Danish cultural heritage which could be labeled as romantic, as far as music is concerned, has become a new possibility in recent decades, while being discredited in most part of the 20th century.
The paper concludes in suggesting that scholarly editions can contribute to musical life, both as a practical means of making the music available in up to date, practical musical text and as a means of adding perspective to the music, showing in this case, that Gade’s violin concerto ‘might be better than its reputation’, as one critic put it in a review of the Åstrand-recording, and illuminating the relationship between artistic considerations on the part of the composer and ways of receiving the music by potential performers, critics, and, ultimately, the public.
Translated title of the contributionNiels W. Gade, Violinkoncert op. 55: Supplementerende kommentarer til den kritiske udgave NWGW I:12 (2003)
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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