Francesca Dego Displays a Depth of Emotion on ‘Brahms & Busoni Violin Concertos’

The rising star illuminates these timeless concertos with flawless technique and a depth of emotion that is all too rarely heard these days

By Greg Cahill | From the May-June 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

Such a richly rewarding recording. Violinist Francesca Dego is a rising star who illuminates these timeless concertos with flawless technique and a depth of emotion that is all too rarely heard these days. The Brahms Violin Concerto, Op. 77 (1878), has been an inspiration for this 34-year-old Italian-American violinist since the age of 15. Dego met conductor Dalia Stasevska while performing the Brahms concerto in Austria, and the two women have become close friends and frequent collaborators. That kinship may help to explain the robust nature of this recording


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Brahms - Busoni Violin Concertos Francesca Dego, violin; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska, cond. (Chandos)
Brahms & Busoni Violin Concertos , Francesca Dego, violin; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska, cond. (Chandos)

The Busoni Violin Concerto, Op. 35a, K. 243, composed between 1896 and ’97, is the perfect complement to the famous Brahms, also steeped in Romantic-era heart song. “One of the reasons I fell in love with Busoni’s concerto is that it is permeated with the spirit of the Brahms masterpiece,” Dego writes in the liner notes. “Busoni’s concerto is also dedicated to Henri Petri, a student of Joachim’s, and Busoni’s own cadenza for the first movement of the Brahms, which I chose for this recording, uses similar lines and technical solutions to the concerto. Busoni considered himself more of a German than Italian composer, but his Italian virtuosity rings out in this joyous and demanding piece.”

Busoni’s Concerto in D Major, Op. 35a: I. Allegro moderato

In November, Dego will also release a recording of the Busoni Violin Sonatas with her longtime recital partner, Francesca Leonardi. That recording will complete Dego’s survey of the Busoni violin works that marks the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death. The London-based musician plays a 1697 Francesco Rugeri violin (Cremona).

Also recommended: 2021’s Il Cannone: Francesca Dego Plays Paganini’s Violin, which paired Dego with perhaps the world’s most famous fiddle.