WEBER Sonatas for piano & violin, Piano Quartet. Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov. Harmonia Mundi

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Weber Sonatas For Piano And Faust Alexander Melnikov Harmonia Mundi

  • Weber Sonatas For Piano And Faust Alexander Melnikov Harmonia Mundi
  • Weber Sonatas For Piano And Faust Alexander Melnikov Harmonia Mundi

WEBER

Sonatas for piano & violin, Piano Quartet

Isabelle Faust [violin Stradivarius]

Alexander Melnikov [fortepiano ‘Lagrassa’ ca.1815, from the collection of Edwin Beunk]

Boris Faust [viola Gaetano Pollastri]

Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt [cello Matteo Gofriller]

6 Sonates progressives pour le Piano-Forté avec Violon obligé, composées et dédiées aux amateurs Op.10 Quartet for violin, viola, violoncello and fortepiano Op.8.

The unjustly neglected piano quartet (J76) was completed in September of the year 1809, which the 22-year-old Weber spent in Stuttgart. It was originally offered to the publisher Hans Georg Nägeli, but he rejected it, advising the composer that it created wanton ‘confusion in the arrangement of its ideas’ and indeed too obviously imitated the ‘bizarreries’ of Beethoven. However, the work was issued a year later by the Bonn firm of Beethoven’s friend and admirer Nikolaus Simrock, whose ears were more receptive to the peculiarities of the score than Nägeli. And in the following year, 1811, Simrock once again stepped into the breach in the matter of the publication of the Six Violin Sonatas (J99–104). These were written to a tight deadline in the late summer of 1810, on commission from the Offenbach publisher Johann Anton André, who had in mind a collection of short pieces of moderate difficulty for the domestic music-making of the upper middle classes. Unhappy with the concomitant artistic limitations, Weber took the commission only half-heartedly and repeatedly complained during the compositional process of this ‘swine of a job’, which cost him ‘more sweat than the same number of symphonies’. His annoyance was all the greater when André rejected the finished work out of hand because it did not correspond to his expectations.

When Simrock finally published these pieces in Bonn in two instalments under the title 'Progressive sonatas for fortepiano with obbligato violin, composed for and dedicated to amateur musicians', with the opus number 10, Weber had only remotely followed André’s specifications. It is true that the technical demands on the performers, especially the violin, are fairly modest, but in terms of content the 6 short two- or three-movement sonatinas far outstrip mere pedagogical intentions. They were written to please amateurs, but quite as much to satisfy connoisseurs of any era.

Isabelle Faust follows up the success of recent recordings for hm [Bach volume 2, Berg and Beethoven with Claudio Abbado] with regular partner Alexander Melnikov and her brother Boris, currently principal viola of the Bremer Philharmoniker, and Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt of whom Mstislav Rostropovich has said: ‘Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt is one of the leading cellists of his generation, of our time’.

Strad feature in January, written by Isabelle.

Harmonia Mundi HMC902108

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