Violin Concerto

Antonio Vivaldi

Violin Concerto in D minor

Op. 8/7, RV242

About this work

German virtuoso violinist Johann Georg Pisendel is the person in reference in the parenthetical designation to the headnote of this Concerto. He studied with Vivaldi in Venice in 1716, and it was for him that the composer wrote this work. In fact, Vivaldi dedicated six violin concertos in all to Pisendel. This D minor effort was published in 1725, and is part of the Op. 8 set that includes the famous Four Seasons.

The Concerto in D minor is cast in three movements, with two Allegro panels framing a central Largo. The first movement begins with a lively, stately theme given in the orchestral ritornello, after which the violin takes up the same material, imparting a freer sense and good a measure of virtuosity. There is much emphasis on rhythm throughout, but the mood remains serious and the solo writing colorful and challenging.

The second movement has a dreamy, somewhat dark atmosphere, much like that in many of the slow movements of Vivaldi's concertos. The main theme is lovely in its slightly mournful character and gentle, songful sonorities. By contrast, the finale begins in a lively, bright mood, the orchestra delivering the main theme, which is of mostly descending contour, with great vigor. The violin soloist enters with a rapid-fire spray of notes, then picks up the pulse of the orchestra to present its somewhat different take on the thematic material. Again, there is a busy, rather serious character to this movement, but a playful, colorful sense, as well.