Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra in D minor, MWV 04

CONCERTO FOR PIANO, VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA IN D MINOR, MWV 04 also known as the Double Concerto in D minor, was written in 1823 by Felix Mendelssohn when he was 14 years old. This piece is Mendelssohn’s fourth work for a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment, preceded by a Largo and Allegro in D minor for Piano and Strings MWV O1, the Piano Concerto in A Minor MWV O2, and the Violin Concerto in D minor MWV O3. Mendelssohn composed the work to be performed for a private concert on May 25th , 1823 at the Mendelssohn home in Berlin with his violin teacher and friend, Eduard Rietz . Following this private performance, Mendelssohn revised the scoring, adding winds and timpani. A public performance was given on July 3, 1823 at the Berlin Schauspielhaus. Like the A minor Piano Concerto (1822), it remained unpublished during Mendelssohn’s lifetime and it wasn’t until 1999 when a critical edition of the piece was available.

Several works by different composers influenced Mendelssohn’s composition of this piece –  Johann Hummel’s own Concerto for Piano, Violin, and Orchestra in G major, Op. 17, with whom he had briefly studied in 1821 and Carl Maria von Weber’s Konzertstück in F minor. Mendelssohn’s appreciation for Viotti, Rode, and Kreutzer as well as Brandeburg Concertos and other works by Bach.

The Allegro movement is in the traditional concerto sonata-allegro form of the Classical era and is somewhat modeled on the Baroque ritornello concerto, with alternating tuttis and solo sections, an orchestral tutti that presents the themes that will be expanded upon throughout the movement constructed as a classical piece. The second theme is very lyrical, with hints of Romanticism.  The movement ends with a virtuoso cadenza that Mendelssohn wrote himself. In the manuscript of the work the composer added an alternative cadenza. The second movement begins with a beautiful melody similar to the famous piano pieces written six years later from the Songs Without Words cycle. The third movement is constructed as a virtuoso rondo, here again the influence of the Baroque concerti is audible in the contrasting texture, and a Bach-style chorale is heard.

The concerto is an example of early Romanticism reviving interest in Baroque music, the perfect use of classical form and the emergence of the new Romantic style with its inherent emotional intensity.

The idea of writing a violin concerto had occupied the composer from an early age. At the age of 13 he wrote the Violin and String Concerto (1822), which 130 years later would be performed by Yehudi Menuhin in 1952.

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