Duo Brillant for Violin, Cello or Viola & Piano, Op.39
Vieuxtemps composed the Duo Brillant in 1864 with his friend, the virtuoso cellist, Adrian Servais in mind. The work was originally intended as a double concerto with orchestra and, in fact, the two virtuosi did perform it with orchestra. However, his publisher immediately insisted on a version for violin, cello and piano and it is in this version that it became known. Vieuxtemp, also a superb violist, created an alternate viola part as a replacement for the cello. He often performed this version with Benjamin Godard, a violin and viola virtuoso and composer in his own right, who had been one of Vieuxtemp's students and who toured with him. The work is in three sections. A short opening Allegro followed by an Adagio and a substantial finale, Allegretto. The music shows considerable melodic flair, is captivating from start to finish.
Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) was born in Verviers, Belgium. He received his first violin instruction from his father, subsequently studying with Charles de Bériot. He toured Europe for several decades and was regarded as one of the leading violinists of his time. Schumann compared Vieuxtemps to Paganini, and Paganini, himself, was extremely impressed when he heard Vieuxtemps at his London debut in 1834. Vieuxtemps also devoted himself to composition, having studied composition with Simon Sechter in Vienna, and Anton Reicha in Paris. His violin concertos are still in the repertoire. In addition to this, he became an important teacher, founding the violin school in St. Petersburg and teaching at the Brussels Conservatory, where Eugène Ysaÿe was among his many students. Although the bulk of Vieuxtemps' compositions were for the violin, he often turned to other instruments, writing two cello concertos, a viola sonata and three string quartets among other things. For many years, he toured as the leader of a string quartet, championing the quartets of Beethoven in particular.
Although there have been two modern editions, the editors of both editions have substituted there own rather dubious changes. We have reprinted the original with Vieuxtemps own fingerings and bowings and have added rehearsal numbers. Out of print for over a century, we are pleased to make it available once again. As you can hear from our soundbites, it is a tour d'force and should be of interest to players of accomplished technical ability.