Aylen Pritchin, violin
Maxim Emelyanychev, piano
Franz Schubert: Sonata (Sonatina) No. 1 for violin and piano in D major, Op. post. 137/1, D 384
Sergej Prokofjev: Sonata for violin and piano in D major, No. 2, Op. 94bis
Allegro con brio
Antonín Dvořák: Romance, op. 11
Edvard Grieg: Sonata for violin and piano No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45
Allegro molto ed appassionato
Allegretto espressivo alla Romanza
MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAMME:
Notes by Dina Puhovski
Franz Peter Schubert (Vienna, 1797 – 1828) received piano, violin and organ lessons from an early age, he sang and studied harmony and went on to study counterpoint and composition with Antonio Salieri. Since his family did not approve of a career in music, he became a teacher in the school where his father worked, but continued to compose prolifically and later became an independent composer. In addition to cantatas and operas, many of which were never staged, he wrote pieces he often presented at private musical events, the social gatherings later called ‘Schubertiades’. Apart from regular audience and feedback on his works, this brought Schubert important social contacts, acquaintances who promoted his music until the end of his life, only occasionally with success. Schubert was best known as a composer of art songs, he practically ‘invented’ German romantic art song, but also wrote symphonies, chamber music, piano works, operas, Masses etc. He died at the age of 32 as a ‘very promising composer’, just as his music started gaining popularity among wider audiences.
Schubert was an excellent violinist since his youth, and in 1816 he was particularly dedicated to composing for violin. He wrote dances for violin solo and three sonatas for violin and piano; Sonatas were posthumously published by Diabelli as Sonatinas, because it was considered it would sound more attractive and sell better. The first Sonata is graceful and simple, with several more turbulent parts; the opening theme is performed in unison by the piano and violin, in flowing, triadic sequences; the second movement is a lovely miniature, a three-part song initiated by the piano, and the third a rondo, with themes alternating between the instruments. Schubert’s violin sonatas are his homage to Mozart, characterised by great attention to balance and consistency of sound.
Sergei Prokofiev (Sontsovka, today Krasne, 1891 – Moscow, 1953) received early music lessons from his pianist mother, studied with Glière, and with Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov at the St Petersburg Conservatory. Alongside composition, he studied piano and conducting and was awarded the Anton Rubinstein Prize for his graduation concert − a performance of his own piece, Piano Concerto No. 1. After his early collaboration with the choreographer Diaghilev in London, Prokofiev toured Japan and the USA, where he wrote his successful comic opera The Love for Three Oranges for the Chicago Opera. During the 1920s and early 1930s he was mostly based in Paris, composing prolifically, after which he returned to Moscow in 1936. His piece Peter and the Wolf was a huge success, as was his music for Sergei Eisenstein’s films. His opera War and Peace was premiered posthumously and, despite occasionally composing commissioned pieces written in the style of social realism, many of his works were banned from performance as ‘unsuitable’. He wrote seven symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, cantatas and numerous piano pieces.
Prokofiev wrote only a few chamber works – Cello Sonata (the second remained unfinished), Five Melodies for Violin and Piano, and two sonatas for the same ensemble.
He originally wrote Sonata No. 2 for the flute, in summer of 1943, which he spent in Almaty, fleeing the turmoil of war. At that time he was writing the score for Eisenstein’s film Ivan the Terrible, but also wanted to write a sonata in a ‘gentle, flowing classical style’. He allegedly sketched the themes much earlier, inspired by the French flautist Georges Barrère.
He finished the Flute Sonata in D major in Perm, but violinist David Oistrakh convinced him to rewrite it into a Violin Sonata. The first movement, with its long, gentle melody, looks to the music of earlier periods in a neoclassical style, but with more modern harmonies; the second movement is wilder, with several folk elements, tempestuous crashes and what is sometimes referred to as Prokofiev’s sarcasm. The third movement is more impressionistic, with hints of blues, and the fourth impatient, celebratory.
Antonín Dvořák (Nelahozeves, 1841 – Prague, 1904) was a butcher's apprentice in his youth, then an organist, a violist in small orchestras and a teacher. He was able to focus on his composing after receiving Austrian state grants for composers, awarded to him by a jury whose members included Hanslick and Brahms – the latter also Dvořák’s role model and composer who recommended him to his publisher. Dvořák and Brahms shared a preference for rich, absolute music, symphonic, but also chamber music. On the other hand, Dvořák often used national colours and singable melodies from folk tradition in his music characterised by late Romantic style. For a long time he was reluctant to leave Bohemia and move to Vienna, a major music centre, and insisted that the titles and other markings in his published works were always written in Czech, in addition to German. He later lived in New York for three years – allegedly accepting the position of a director of the newly established National Conservatory of Music in New York under the condition that the talented Native American and African American students who could not afford tuition study free of charge.
Romance in F minor is a miniature Dvořák wrote in 1877 by reworking the slow movement of his unpublished string quartet, at the suggestion of his publisher, Simrock. The piece has a delicate orchestral introduction, while some of the harmonic elements of the vocal and restrained main theme recall Dvořák’s earlier, short-lived obsession with Wagner, according to musicologist and expert on Dvořák, Otakar Šourek.
Edvard Hagerup Grieg (Bergen, 1843 – 1907) is the founder of the Norwegian national style in music, known for his lyricism. He initially learned piano with his mother, and later studied at the Leipzig Conservatory. He started discovering folk music under the influence of Norwegian composer Rikard Nordraak. His works include lyrical piano pieces with late Romantic harmonies, incidental music for Peer Gynt, songs and symphonic dances.
Grieg wrote three sonatas for violin and piano and classified them himself: The First is ‘naïve and lengthy’, the Second in ‘national style’, while the Third ‘opens new horizons’. Nearly twenty years passed between the Second and the Third, his last chamber work, written in 1886/87. The most demanding and most performed of the three sonatas, it is more expressive and gloomier, with fewer folk elements and more ‘heroic’ moments inspired by Beethoven, whose influence is also revealed in the choice of the key, C minor. It also includes the famous ‘Grieg motif’ – a falling three-note figure, a minor second followed by a major third (like at the beginning of the Piano Concerto). Grieg played the piano in the premiere, at the Gewandhaus Lepizig in 1887, with Adolph Brodsky on the violin. He dedicated the Sonata to the painter Franz von Lehnbach, and the first 1,500 copies were sold out very quickly. Musicologist Rune J. Andersen wrote that it contains ‘universal and national elements fused into something deeply personal and specifically Griegian.’
Photo (c) Andrej Grilc