Our Video of the Week takes us back to 2018 for a “Sundays in Virginia” concert in Grisham Hall at St. Anne’s Belfield-School in nearby Charlottesville, VA. This memorable performance features #Heifetz2018 violinist Jung Min Choi and renowned Heifetz faculty pianist Rohan De Silva in Franz Schubert’s fiery Rondo Brillant in B minor, D. 895.
Schubert, the man of a thousand melodies, isn’t generally associated with violin virtuosity. But this lengthy and enormously difficult piece – requiring both advanced technique and stamina – is a rare exception. It was composed in 1826 for the twenty-year-old Czech violinist Josef Slavik, of whom Chopin said, “With the exception of Paganini, I have never heard a player like him. Ninety-six staccatos in one bow! It is almost incredible! He plays like a second Paganini, but a rejuvenated one, who will perhaps in time surpass the first. Slavík fascinates the listener and brings tears into his eyes… he makes humans weep, more he makes tigers weep.”
Alas, Slavik’s own story is weep-worthy and steeped in modern irony: Slavik’s hot flame of fame burned brightly in his early twenties, but he became a victim of a pandemic, as scholars note the “1833 Influenza advanced westward out of Russia into Europe.” Fresh off of a triumphant performance in Vienna, the flu felled Slavik at the age of just 27.
But Slavik’s virtuosity inspired what is truly one of Schubert’s more “brillant” works. The composer pulls no punches for the soloist here, and not surprisingly, this is a repertoire favorite among the young stars of the Heifetz Institute. Jung Min’s dynamic performance displays remarkable control and virtuosity through the opening fireworks, and beautiful lyricism and expression throughout the slower passages.
Enjoy this performance, and don’t forget to subscribe to get a fresh Video of The Week in your inbox every week!