KLEBE: Violin Sonatas / Capriccio for Solo Violin, Op. 128 / Fantasia Incisiana, Op. 137
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Giselher Klebe (b. 1925)
Music for Violin
Giselher Klebe was born in Mannheim in 1925 and in1940 entered the Berlin Conservatory with ascholarship, studying the violin, viola and musichistory, and composition with Kurt von Wolfurt. Heresumed his studies after the war as a pupil of JosefRufer at the newly founded Berlin International MusicInstitute, and, privately, with Boris Blacher. HisDivertimento, Op. 1/2, for piano, had its firstperformance in 1947, the year of his first meeting withthe composer Wolfgang Fortner, whom he succeededten years later as senior lecturer in composition andmusic theory at the Detmold North-West GermanMusic Academy. He became a professor at theAcademy in 1962. By this time he had establishedhimself as a composer, with works performed atDarmstadt and at Donaueschingen and notable successin 1950 with his orchestral Zwitschermaschine,described as a musical metamorphosis for full orchestraand inspired by Paul Klee's The Twittering Machine.
He won various awards and became one of the mostimportant contemporary composers of opera inGermany, with a series of works, first with his ownlibretti and then with texts by his wife Lore Klebe,generally based on existing literary works. Over theyears he has won great distinction, with further prizewinningcompositions and public honours. In 1981 hebecame director of the music section of the BerlinAcademy of Arts, of which he served as president from1986 until 1989.
Klebe's Sonata No. 1, Op. 8, for solo violin, waswritten in the summer of 1950 in Berlin-Frohnau, anddedicated, in gratitude, to Hans Werner Henze, who hadrecommended his orchestral piece The TwitteringMachine to the then director of the DonaueschingenFestival, Heinrich Strobel. It was performed at thefestival in the same year by the South-West RadioSymphony Orchestra under Hans Rosbaud, aperformance that brought Klebe's internationalbreakthrough. The Sonata marks the first stages ofdevelopment of his musical language. Both movementsare linked by rhythmic-formal structures. Klebe's beliefin the unifying function of melody is a continuingfeature of his work.
Sonata No. 1, Op. 14, for violin and piano, waswritten in autumn 1952 and dedicated to the Alsatianpoet Rene Schickele (1883-1941), with whose workKlebe at the time had particular affinity. The three shortmovements are played without a break, the ostinatomotif groups and development of the first movementundergoing intensive changes in the second, with itsnew patterns, taking the form of several melodic archforms in the third.
Dedicated to his wife, Klebe's Sonata No. 2, Op.
20, for solo violin, was commissioned by Darmstadt forthe Tenth International Vacation Courses for NewMusic in 1955. It was written between January andMarch in that year, under the strong influence ofHaydn's Symphony No. 92 in G major, 'Oxford'. Thesonata has three movements. The first of these startswith an idea that is fundamental to the structure of thesonata. Its first pattern, double stops marked piano andnarrowly spaced intervals, and the second, single-linecrescendo and decrescendo, with widely spacedintervals, are continuously interrelated. Hence comesthe proportional structure that is basic to all sonatas.
From this basis all new ideas are strictly interwovenwith the fundamental idea. The first movement buildsup the intervallic, musical, dynamic and rhythmicelements. The second movement is quieter, with a rapidchange and intensive development of severalcontrasting idea groups. The third movementstrengthens the calmer tendency and ends by bringingtogether the melodic complexes of the sonata withincreasing simplicity.
Klebe wrote his Sonata No. 2, Op. 66, for violinand piano, in May and June 1972. He originally gave itthe title of Sonata on Boris Blacher, dedicating it toBlacher on the latter's 75th birthday, using the notesderived from his name, B - E flat (Es) - B - A - C - Bnatural (H) - E, as the introductory notes of thecomposition. In the years from 1946 to 1951 BorisBlacher (1903-1975) had been the definitive teacher forKlebe's musical development. In the violin part hewrote with the playing technique of Blacher's then veryyoung son in mind. The three movements of the sonatafollow the implicit classical pattern. The firstmovement is an exposition of the thematic ideas, thesecond reveals darker aspects of these ideas, and thethird finally forms the melody at the centre of the wholesonata.
Capriccio 'Vor dem Gewitter', Op. 128, cameabout as the result of Klebe's desire to write a soloviolin capriccio for his friend Eckhard Fischer. Klebewas sitting in the garden of his daughter Sonja, wholives in the Alpine Foreland, and conceived theprincipal part of this work as a thunder-storm arose.
The two movements characterize the event, distantlightning, the air is oppressive, the first gusts of windsweep in, it becomes ever darker, there is thunder andlightning in the distance, the rain grows heavy, and thestorm is there.
Klebe's Fantasia Incisiana, Op. 137, for violin andpiano, has the Italian dedication 'Questa Fantasia ?¿composta e dedicata per tutti gli uomini scortandomidolce fuori l'avvilimento tenebroso'. The nameIncisiana is taken from Eckhard Fischer's vineyard,Incisa Scapaccino, in Piedmont, where the privateperformance of the fourth movement provided thestarting-point, and where the initial sketches of the firstmovement were made. The Fantasy is dedicated to allthose who helped the composer through the period ofdepression he underwent on the death of his wife Lore,after sixty years together. The first movement presentsa clear melodic shape, peaceful in character; the secondbrings odd ideas and memories, the third an intensiveinterchange of ideas, the fourth a tribute to his wife,herself an enthusiastic violinist, the fifth a counterpartof the third, and the sixth related to the fourth.Based on notes by the composer
English version by Keith Anderson