LINER NOTES written by Clemens Romijn
The violin was Edward Elgar’s own instrument and his Violin Concerto is almost like a personal confession: it was ‘too emotional’, Elgar admitted, adding that he loved it nonetheless. The solo part is one of the most exhausting in the repertoire – a veritable compendium of bravura violin techniques. In an interview, Fritz Kreisler, to whom the Violin Concerto is dedicated, ranked Elgar with Beethoven and Brahms. Elgar met the challenge: his Violin Concerto combines the singing quality of Beethoven with the symphonic drama of Brahms.
The London-born Gerald Finzi was in many ways more English than Elgar and his teacher Ralph Vaughan Williams. As can be heard in his Violin Concerto, a well kept secret from 1927, that had its first performance after the premiere only in 1999. The work lasts twenty minutes: a six-minute allegro, a superb central ten-minute molto sereno, and ending with a four-minute hornpipe rondo. It is difficult to understand why Finzi was dissatisfied with his two fast movements. The first combines beauty with energy. Through its sheer romantic beauty, the molto sereno is one of t hose pieces where the hairs stand up on the back of the neck.
SOMETHING PERSONAL TO SAY written by Ning Feng
"England has always had a very special place in my heart. Not on ly was it the first foreign country I ever traveled to, but I also spent five unforgettable years studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I learned so much about the English people, history, culture, and, more importantly, the beauty of English Music.
Elgar is perhaps the most iconic figure in British music history. People may say that his cello concerto is the more popular piece, but no one would doubt that his violin concerto is, certainly, the most monumental piece in the British violin repertory. I still remember the first time I heard the piece and how much it reminded me of the landscape, the colour, the image of England. It is always very emotional for me to perform this piece, the longest violin concerto ever written, as all the precious memories of my time in England come flooding back. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to a very special friend of mine, Mr Chong Long, who introduced me to the wonderful Finzi violin concerto. Compared with the Elgar violin concerto, Finzi’s is a much shorter piece written in concerto grosso style. It has lovely energetic first and last movements, with a beautiful, touching slow second movement in between. It is a wonderful and very interesting listening experience to have these two English violin concertos placed together. I would also like to share my appreciation for Mr. Long’s generous support, which made this recording possible."
PRODUCER'S NOTE written by Jared Sacks
"My first impression on coming to Liverpool was the deep respect the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has for Ning Feng. Feng had already been there a number of times so the feeling was mutual. Everyone was very relaxed yet anxious to work with Maestro Pietro and Feng. (quite different from some of the other orchestras I have worked with). You really hear their commitment in the playing. Each member of the orchestra is giving Feng the freedom to express as the soloist, yet they are right there when they have their own moment to shine."