KODALY: Duo for Violin and Cello / Hungarian Rondo / Adagio for Cello / Sonatina
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Music for Cello,Volume 2
Prelude and Fugue(J.S. Bach, tr. Kodaly); Sonatina for Cello and Piano
Adagio for Cello andPiano; Capriccio for Solo Cello
Hungarian Rondo forCello and Piano; Duo for Violin and Cello, Op. 7
The son of a railway booking-clerk, Zoltan Kodaly was born in 1882 at Kecskemet, fifty miles south-east of Budapest. In1900, after a childhood largely spent in the Hungarian countryside, Kodalyentered the pazmany University in Budapest, studying German and Hun?¡garian. Atthe same time he took lessons at the Academy of Music, where his compositionteacher was Hans Koessler, a cousin of Max Reger, a musician for whomtraditional Hungarian folk-song had no place. However, Kodaly's doctoral thesisin 1906 was devoted to just this subject, in the collection and investigationof which he had already busied himself, together with his close contemporaryBela Bartok.
After a brief period of study in Berlin, Kodaly returned to Hungary tojoin the staff of the Academy where, in 1908, he took over the first-yearcomposition class. In the following years he continued his activities as acomposer and as a collector of folk-song, finding in the second activity anecessary foundation for art music that was genuinely Hungarian rather than inthe conventional German mould. He became deputy director of the Academy, whichwas granted the status of a university in the short-lived Hungarian Republicestablished in 1919, but he was barred for a time from teaching after the fallof the Republic four months later and the accession to power of Admiral Horthy.
Kodaly's music attracted increasing international attention in thefollowing years, particularly with the first performance outside Hungary of hisPsalmus Hungaricus in 1926 and the success of excerpts from hisessentially Hungarian Singspiel Hary Janos. When he resumed his dutiesas a teacher, he was able to exert a strong influence on younger composers and a stillgreater influence over the whole process of musical education in Hungary, withmethods that have, however imperfectly, been much imitated elsewhere. The taskhe set himself was to establish a truly Hungarian musical tradition, to beabsorbed, as it was in his own music, into a recognisably Hungarian form of artmusic. While Bartok, whose style as a composer was generally more astringentand more experimental than Kodaly's, took refuge abroad, Kodaly remained inHungary during Admiral Horthy's period of rule, as he did under the newdispensation established in the years after the war, much honoured at home andabroad. He died in Budapest in 1967.
Kodaly's transcription for cello and piano of the Prelude and Fugue inE flat minor from the first book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier wasmade in 1951 and dedicated to Pablo Casals, who had emerged from self-imposedsilence in 1950 for the Bach bicentenary. Kodaly offers the transcription toCasals 'in grateful memory of his wonderful renderings.' Transposed to the moreconvenient and, for the cello, more resonant key of D minor, the Prelude allowsmelodic interest to the cello, which, in the Fugue provides the thirdand fourth entries of the fugal subject.
The Sonatina for cello and piano was completed in 1922 andoriginally intended as an additional movement for the two-movement Sonatafor cello and piano, Opus 4 of 1909 (Naxos 8.553160). Kodaly found,however, that his style had changed during the previous decade, making itsinclusion in the earlier sonata inappropriate. Broadly symmetrical instructure, with varied and transposed earlier material returning in the secondpart of the movement, the work remains thoroughly Hungarian in its melodiccontours.
Kodaly's moving Adagio for cello and piano, which also exists inversions for violin or viola, was written in 1905 and dedicated, on itssubsequent publication, to the violinist Imre Waldbauer of theWaldbauer-Kerpely Quartet, an ensemble then of great importance in theencouragement and performance of contemporary Hungarian chamber music. It wasto this quartet that Kodaly dedicated his own second work in that form, whileproviding the cellist, Jenő Kerpely, with a cello sonata. Tripartite instructure, the first section, which frames a more overtly Hungarian centralsection, returns in a modified form, slowly and gently unwinding to provide aconclusion.
The Capriccio for solo cello, written in 1915, makes greatertechnical demands on a performer. After a dramatic introduction it movesforward to a rapid passage of divided octaves, framing a further passage ofmore complex virtuoso display. The Capriccio ends with gently pluckedchords, after an emphatic chordal flourish in a dramatic coda.
Two years later Kodaly wrote his Hungarian Rondo, the title ofthe version for cello and piano of the work for chamber orchestra firstperformed in Vienna in 1918, under the title Old Hungarian Soldiers' Songs. Thisis an apt enough description of the thematic basis of the work, with its firstcharacteristic melody used to frame a series of episodes based on othertraditional Hungarian material.
Written in 1914, the Duo for violin and cello, Opus 7 wasfirst heard abroad at the ISCM festival of 1924 in Salzburg. The work maintainsa perfect balance between the two instruments. There is something gentlyrhapsodic in the Hungarian contours of the opening, as the instruments take itin turns to accompany in plucked notes or to state the principal melody,developing into fiercer textures. There is an expressive second movement,thematically related to what has passed, leading to dramatic rhetoric, as thedialogue between the two instruments continues. The cadenza-like Maestoso elargamente, ma non troppo lento is followed by a rapid Presto thatsometimes suggests in its sonorities the work of Ravel for violin and cello,before its final march to a brilliant conclusion.
William Preucil began studying violin at the age of five with hismother, Doris Preucil, a pioneer in Suzuki violin instruction in the UnitedStates. At the age of sixteen he entered Indiana University, where he receiveda prestigious performer's award. He studied with Josef Gingold, ZinoFrancescatti and Gyorgy Sebok. William Preucil has made solo appearances withthe orchestras of Minnesota, Detroit, Rochester and Hong Kong, as well as theAtlanta Symphony Orchestra with whom he served as leader for seven years. Heregularly appeared as soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, hisperformances including the premi?¿re of Stephen Paulus's Violin Concerto, dedicatedto Preucil. He also performed with the award-winning Cleveland Quartet, beforebeing appointed leader of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1994. Preucil regularlyperforms at the most prestigious North American chamber music festivals, aswell as at international festivals in Switzerland, France and Germany. He alsoserves as concertmaster and violin soloist of the Mainly Mozart FestivalOrchestra in San Diego and continues to perform as a member of the Lanier Trio.
William Preucil currently teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music and is amember of the artistic advisory board for the Interlochen Center for the Artsin Michigan.