CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL 2016
Johannes Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor
Franck Sonata for Violin & Piano
Prokofiev Sonata for Violin & Piano No1
F MINOR OP.34
When Brahms ambled into his favourite Viennese café one evening, so the story goes, a friend asked him how he had spent his day. "I was working on my symphony," he said. "In the morning I added an eighth note. In the afternoon I took it out." The anecdote may be apocryphal, but its intent faithfully reflects Brahms' painstaking process of creation, seen clearly in his F minor Piano Quintet. He conceived the piece in his native Hamburg in 1861-62, initially as a string quintet. He reworked it later as a sonata for two pianos until it took its final form as a piano quintet after Clara’s Schumann crucial opinion. Hermann Levi’s description of the piano quintet as the most significant chamber work since the year 1828 was a reference to Schubert's death, and there is no doubt that in writing this work in the first instance for a Schubertian ensemble, Brahms was paying deliberate homage to his great predecessor. Subdued drama, strength, excitement and sensitivity, all meet together creating a chamber masterpiece of unparalleled Brahmsian beauty.
I. Allegro non troppo II. Andante, un poco Adagio III. Scherzo: Allegro IV. Finale: Poco sostenuto—Allegro non troppo—Presto, non tropo
Sonata for Violin & Piano
The Sonata in A for Violin and Piano is one of Franck's best known compositions. It is an amalgam of his rich native harmonic language with the classical traditions that he held in high value. The sonata was written in 1886 as a wedding present to violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, who kept it in his repertoire for the next 40 years and of course it greatly contributed to C. Franck's recognition, as a major composer. The piece is further notable for the difficulty of its piano part, as compared to most chamber repertoire; technical problems including frequent extreme extended figures – the composer himself possessing very big hands – and virtuoso runs and leaps, particularly in the second movement. The work is cyclic in nature, meaning that themes from one movement appear in subsequent movements but usually transformed. Franck's personal and uniquely rich harmonic language and broad appeal of songlike melodies has given the sonata a standard place in the core repertoire of all major violinists. Jascha Heifetz, one of the most celebrated violinists of the 20th century chose to play the Sonata at his final recital in 1972.
I. Allegretto ben moderato, 9/8 II. Allegro III. Ben moderato: Recitative-Fantasia IV. Allegretto poco mosso
Sonata for Violin & Piano No1
F MINOR OP.80
Sergei Prokofiev started working on the Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 in 1938. The piece was set aside until finishing it a decade later, in 1946, after the second sonata was already published. It is one of the composer's darkest and most brooding works. The piece was dedicated to the great violinist David Oistrackh, who provided the impetus for its completion and performed its premiere. During the rehearsals with Oborin and Oistrakh, the composer insisted on an aggressive interpretation, saying "It should sound in such a way that people should jump in their seat, and people will say 'Is he out of his mind? ". All four movements are almost equally long, but Prokofiev said that the first served as a kind of extended introduction to the second, being a haunted prelude that ends with whispering muted scales that should sound “like the wind in a graveyard”.
I. Andante assai II. Allegro brusco III. Andante IV. Allegrissimo - Andante assai, come prima