Classical & Opera: Heavenly violin

Schoenberg, Webern and Berg - the Second Viennese School. These composers' rejection of conventional tonality has ensured that very few of their works can be described as crowd-pullers.

But one of the few works from Second Vienna that communicates to a non- specialist audience is the Violin Concerto of Alban Berg. The Concerto came about as the result of a commission but, whilst sketching out the form, Berg learnt of the death of the 18-year old daughter of his friend Alma Mahler, Manon, and so dedicated the Concerto to the "memory of an angel". The work is divided into two sections, the first depicting Manon's character; the second, the catastrophe of her death.

Berg wrote the Concerto while staying in the place where Brahms wrote his Violin Concerto. Like Brahms, Berg saw this lyrical work as an extension of the great Austro-Germanic tradition; it employs such easily recognisable tonal elements as a Viennese waltz and a Bach chorale. Such melodic signposts help make the Concerto accessible; at the same time, what has ensured the work's enduring status is the power of its expression and the subtle refinement of its technique.

Pierre Amoyal is the soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davies. Royal Festival Hall SE1 (0171-960 4242), 26 Sept, 7.30pm

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