Violin Recital: Adele Anthony (Adele Anthony/ Jonathan Feldman) (Naxos: 8.554148)
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Duo Sonata in A major,Op. 162, D. 574
Rondeau brillant in Bminor, D. 895, Op. 70
Fantasy in C major,Op. 159, D. 934
Born in Vienna in1797, the son of a schoolmaster, Franz Schubert was a chorister in the ImperialChapel and a pupil of the Staatskonvikt, where a scholarship would havepermitted further academic study after his voice broke, had he not chosenrather to take a course of training as a teacher and thereafter, briefly andintermittently, to join his father in the class-room. This vocation, for whichhe had no clear aptitude, he eventually deserted, devoting his time as far aspossible to composition and to the company of his friends. By the time of hisdeath in 1828, the result of a venereal infection contracted some six yearsearlier, he had begun to win some recognition from publishers, althoughofficial positions in any capacity in the musical establishment of Vienna stilleluded him. Schubert, while no virtuoso, was both pianist and violinist, in thelatter capacity the leader of his school orchestra, while in the Schubertfamily quartet he played the viola. His principal compositions for violin andpiano are the three relatively conventional sonatas or sonatinas of 1816, the DuoSonata in A major of 1817 and the Rondeau brillant andremarkable Fantasy in C major of the last years of his life. The closingmonths of 1816 had brought Schubert a temporary respite from the drudgery ofserving as his father's assistant in the school-house. Now he was persuaded byhis friend Franz von Schober to take advantage of his mother's hospitality andlive, for the moment at least, in relative freedom. There had been no successin his application for positions that might have brought him independence,coupled with the kind of musical duties that might have served both asinspiration and discipline, and he was left, as he was until the end of hislife, to provide music for the use of his own circle, rather than for any widerpublic, although his final years brought increased interest from publishers. In1817, however, the year of the Duo Sonata in A major, later to be issuedas Opus 162, publishers showed little sign of awareness of Schubert'sexistence. This was the year of his introduction to the established singerJohann Michael Vogl, of the court opera, now nearing retirement from the stageand willing to perform on the more modest scale of the Vienna salon, the yearof a further series of songs, of overtures that acknowledge the contemporarypopularity of Rossini and of a number of piano sonatas.
The Duo sharesits musical tasks between the violin and the piano. There is, as so often withSchubert, something song-like in the first theme offered by the violin in theopening Allegro moderato, followed by further musical ideas before abrief central development and an orderly recapitulation. The second movement isa Scherzo, placed here to provide a contrast that proximity to the lastmovement would not here allow. There are surprises of key, as the E major Scherzogives way to a C major Trio, approached chromatically by the violin.
The Andantino digresses from its original key of C major into D flat andlater into A flat, dominated by its returning principal theme. The sonata endswith an Allegro vivace, something of a scherzo in mood and character, ifnot in form, and avoiding the prolixity of some of Schubert's finales. Themovement explores, in its course, the wider harmonic vocabulary that was alwaysa part of Schubert's musical language.
Schubert's Rondeaubrillant in B minor for violin and piano, published under this impressiveFrench title by Artaria in April 1827, had been played at Artaria's earlier inthe year by the young Bohemian violinist Josef Slavik, a new-comer to Vienna,and the pianist Carl Maria von Bocklet. It elicited critical praise for itsoriginality, its succession of new ideas and its difficulty in a notice in June1828 in the Wiener Zeitschrift f??r Kunst. The slow introduction leads to a Rondoin which Schubert can display the melodic invention and harmonic exuberanceof which he was a master, its dominant principal theme suggesting a Hungariansource of inspiration. Two contrasting episodes, the first in G major and thesecond a march in D major, are followed by a triumphant conclusion in B major.
The Fantasy waswritten for Josef Slavik, one of the first great Czech virtuosi, who died inBudapest in 1833 at the age of 27. Slavik gave the first performance of the Fantasyin January 1828 with Carl Maria von Bocklet, when the demands it made onthe audience persuaded some, including critics, to leave before the end, inspite of a virtuoso element in the writing, calculated to appeal tocontemporary taste. The keys of the sections range from C major to A major andA minor and, for the third section, A flat major, before returning to theoriginal key. This third section is a set of variations on the song Sei mirgegr??sst, written in 1821, allying the Fantasy with other chambermusic works, the two string quartets and the Trout Quintet, that dependfor their over-all effect so much on the inclusion of such variations. Thethird section of the Fantasy is clearly the heart of a work that isromantically brilliant in its achievement. It moves forward to a final Allegrovivace variation that brings with it the return of the theme.
A graduate of TheJuilliard School New York, where he now serves as Chairman of the AccompanyingDepartment, Jonathan Feldman has enjoyed a career that has taken him to fourcontinents in collaboration with some of the world's greatest instrumentalists,including Nathan Milstein, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Zara Nelsova and KyungWha Chung. He makes frequent appearances as a recitalist throughout the UnitedStates of America and Europe, and performs regularly in chamber music withmembers of the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestras, inaddition to festival appearances and a continuing involvement withmasterclasses.