From Bella Hristova, violin soloist on our January 23rd concert

I remember growing up in Bulgaria in the 1990s and listening to LPs of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 played by David Oistrakh and being mesmerized by both the music and the playing. His is still the only recording that I have ever heard of the piece. I am half-Russian and Russian music resonates deeply within me - this concerto especially. I had studied the Shostakovich Concerto in high school but haven’t had a chance to perform it with orchestra until now. In a way, I’ve gotten familiar again with something that I worked on over a decade ago - and it’s been a fascinating process!

There is a haunting quality that weaves throughout the concerto from the opening few bars and even in the joyous moments there is some trepidation. Even though there are two slow movements, neither of them feel particularly calm or relaxed to me. There is an underlying sense of anxiety and inevitability that the next note and next phrase will happen no matter what, and the pulse won’t stop. Shostakovich puts a very long cadenza in the penultimate movement of this four-movement work - something that I think was unprecedented at that time.

This piece brilliantly invokes so many different characters - sadness, longing, joy, reflection, anxiety, celebration. It’s both emotionally and physically draining, but it’s an incredible showpiece of the instrument and a true collaboration with the orchestra. I am so excited to have the chance to work with Maestro Daniel Meyer again and am thrilled to share this powerful concerto with the Erie audiences!