About the album

Echoes of Eastern Europe

January 1, 2024

World premiere recording of David Ludwig's Violin Concerto, with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta

The heart of Eastern Europe has been the birthplace of some of the greatest musical voices. Around the turn of the last century, that music became even more exquisitely expressive, portraying a world on the brink of vanishing. Antonín Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, a testament to his love for Bohemia, is renowned for its strength, grace, and melodies imbued with Czech folk influences. Contemporary composer David Ludwig’s violin concerto, inspired by his Eastern European roots and written as a tribute to his Bulgarian-American violinist wife, Bella Hristova, is performed by Hristova herself in this premiere recording. These two pieces, though separated by 130 years, are connected in spirit and history.

  1. Violin Concerto: I. Dances
  2. Violin Concerto: II. Ceremony
  3. Violin Concerto: III. Festival
  4. Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Opus 70: I. Allegro maestoso
  5. Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Opus 70: II. Poco adagio
  6. Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Opus 70: III. Scherzo Vivace
  7. Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Opus 70: IV. Finale: Allegro

Recorded at Kleinhans Music Hall
May 13 & 14, 2022
Bernd Gottinger: Producer and Engineer
Chaz Stuart: Line Notes
Cary Trout: Design + Artwork
Beau Fleuve Records

The new piece here is indeed something of an Eastern European family affair, and it is quite lovely. Composer David Serkin Ludwig (grandson of pianist Rudolf Serkin) is married to the soloist, Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova. The concerto celebrates their recent wedding, beginning with a serious and portentous sense of occasion, nearly Bernhard Herrmannesque in power, over which the violin noodles nervously at first, followed by increasingly catchy lyrical tenderness along the way to the wedding ceremony, itself, and ultimately a riotous and slightly inebriated walk home. Along the way one can detect the influence of Shostakovich’s violin writing, but with a warmer touch, and if one were more informed about Bulgaria, the celebratory finale might not remind one of de Falla, but that was my initial impression. Hristova is a silky violinist, and Falletta and the engineers have provided a lovely orchestral carpet of sound for her. The music is warmly and sonorously orchestrated and features an intriguing clicking motif for orchestral wood-block that unifies it. A fine work like this is reassuring for those who might fear the zombie return of dodecaphony. There is nothing in the piece that Samuel Barber or Sir William Walton would not have understood.
Fanfare Magazine