Ahead of a performance with the Swedish Philharmonia, the violinist shares his thoughts on this challenging, yet beautiful work
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When did you first come across the Khachaturian Violin Concerto? When did you first perform it?
The first time I heard this violin concerto was in Serbia – I was around eight, or maybe, nine years old. It was performed by another student of my professor at the time, and I remember being struck by the intricacies of the rhythms and melodies in the work. The first time I performed the Khachaturian Violin Concerto was at the Festival Berlioz in France, and I was 16. Just over two decades later, I look forward to performing the work to audiences in the UK with the Swedish Philharmonia.
What is your advice to string players learning the work – what’s the trickiest section or technique for you in the piece, and how do you overcome it?
I would say that this concerto is quite physically demanding, the structure provides us with bold Russian rhythms mixed with these beautiful Armenian melodies. The musical influence of both countries gives a completely different perspective on the interpretation. When approaching the work, you have to find the right balance, particularly in the last movement between the strength of the sound and the slower passages – too often I find myself taking quite a leisurely approach!
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What’s the best part about performing the work?
It’s hard to point out my favourite part of the concerto, because I love all of it. The best part of performing the work is probably the pianissimo part in the second movement. This quiet melody following the viola solo is possibly one of my favourite moments in the concerto – it’s as if the music is trying to tell you something. I also love the last movement, the huge melodies playing on the earlier themes, accompanied by the orchestra softly playing against the generous sound of the violin – it’s quite a wonderful moment.
Tell us about the instrument you’re using for the performance.
I am very lucky to be able to play an 1843 violin by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. It’s a French instrument, and I love the sound it produces. Particularly in this concerto, there are times where it is almost reminiscent of a viola, a deep, warm sound contrasting with the bright E string. I love it!
Nemanja Radulović will be performing Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto with the Swedish Philharmonia conducted by Jaime Martin. They will be touring to: Cambridge Corn Exchange (22 March), Hull City Hall (23 March), Cadogan Hall (24 March), The Anvil, Basingstoke (25 March), Theatre Royal, Norwich (26 March) and Fairfield Halls, Croydon (27 March).
Listen: The Strad Podcast Episode #60: Nemanja Radulović on ‘Roots’
Review: Nemanja Radulović, Double Sens: Roots
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