The Romantic Violin Concerto 8: Vieuxtemps

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COMPOSERS: Vieuxtemps
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 4 & 5; Fantasia appassionata, Op. 35
PERFORMER: Viviane Hagner (violin); Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins


When Hyperion’s Romantic Violin Concerto series was first planned, the name of Vieuxtemps must have been one of the first on the list. In the mid-19th century he took on Paganini’s mantle of ‘greatest living violinist’, and trod the same path of virtuoso-composer.

Since his focus was the violin (occasionally the viola), his works have struggled to retain the same prominence as those of composers who cast their nets more widely. This is a pity, as they are every bit as rewarding as the handful of old war-horses that dominate the repertoire of many of today’s violinists.

Of the two concertos presented here, the Fourth shows the influence of Beethoven and is, as Berlioz observed, virtually a symphony with violin solo. It is also a work of some daring that may have given Bruch an idea or two, though arguably makes better use of them.


The lyricism of Fifth Concerto is more pervasive, with the movements running together in the manner of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto. Viviane Hagner is a marvellous exponent of both works, as she is in the more overt technical show piece of the Fantasia appassionata. The Royal Flemish Philharmonic are thoroughly committed. Christopher Dingle