Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers commissioned and gave the world premiere of the Fantasia by Finnish composer Einojouhani Rautavaara (1928-2016). This work is the composer’s last score. Set in one mvmt, the piece conveys spiritual serenity and a sense of ethereal light. Structurally, the piece moves in an arc,|
mostly meditative but more agitated midway through. Fluid harmonies move in agreeable sequence, suffused with images of water and sky, akin to the works of the composer’s compatriot, Sibelius. Polish composer Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) composed his Violin Concerto No. 1 in 1916, while in France and under the spell of Debussy and Roussel. Paul Kochanski coached the violin part, so while there are elements of Mediterranean music - oriental scales and exotic scoring - there are nationalist, Polish motifs in the work, rhythmically. The concerto was also inspired in part by the poem “May Night,” which evokes fairies, birds, blossoms, and Nature’s fiery inspiration. Set as one continuous mvmt, the music falls into the traditional 3-mvmt sequence, resembling in structure a tone-poem by Richard Strauss. Ravel’s Tzigane (1924) is a virtuoso gypsy piece that showcases the violin’s capacity for sweetness and acerbic, rasping harmonies. The work pays tribute to the wandering Roma (gypsies) who traveled through Europe, invoking slides, double notes, and modal scales. When Anne Akiko Meyers premiered the Ratavaara Fantasia, she played the audacious Tzigane on the same program.