Virko Baley's Violin Concerto No. 1, quasi una fantasia (1987)

I. Lacrymosa

II. Dies irae

III. Lux aeterna

IV. Agon

Conducted by Joel Sachs with the New Julliard Chamber Ensemble; featuring Stella Chen on violin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at 7:30 pm, in Julliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater.

Download the Program Notes 

Critical Commentary

Baley's Violin Concerto No. 1…had something of the same spirituality as Part and Gorecki, but with more subtle complexity and less literal repetition. The opening movement's mournful violin melody kept bleeding into the orchestra, whose delicate sonorities were dotted with vibraphone, marimba, harp, harpsichord and piano…Though European in its polish and complexity, the work provided the very feature that audiences listen for desperately: sonic images memorable enough to take home.

— Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, New York

My most vivid memory of the afternoon…[was] Virko Baley's Violin Concerto No. 1, quasi una fantasia. Conceived as a requiem, the concerto squeezes the elements of the mass into sonata-allegro form, with Lacrymosa as the exposition, Dies Irae as the development and the Lux aeterna as the recapitulation. The fourth movement stands apart as a festive wake, quoting folk figures with abandon and giving percussion-free reign.

Baley's music has been described as 'multilingual with a Slavic accent', and I can do no better. Somewhat reminiscent of the mystic minimalism of Gorecki and Part, the concerto takes almost cliched near-quotes from Kreisler and Paganini and turns them into an effectively haunting texture.

— Ken Smith, THE STRAD (September 1995)

The work communicated an inherent beauty even on the first hearing. Its lyrical and idiomatic writing for the violin and its decidedly mournful tone touched the emotions with an immediacy all too rare in contemporary music.

— Esther H. Weinstein, MUSICAL AMERICA (July 1988)