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Mendelsohn, Reger,  Weber
Viola II


F1 0082    [8595017408229]
TT- 56:44    released 12/1997

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809 - 1847)
Sonata in C minor (1824)
1. Adagio. Allegro   8:47
2. Menuetto. Trio   8:18
3. Andante con Variazioni   13:31
4. Allegro molto   1:29

Max Reger (1873 - 1916)
Suite in G minor for solo viola, Op. 131 d (1915)
5. Molto sostenuto    5:00
6. Vivace. Andantino. Vivace   3:50
7. Andante sostenuto   3:09
8. Molto vivace   1:10

Carl Maria von Weber (1786 - 1826)
Andante e Rondo ungarese (1809)
9. Andante   4:11
10. Allegretto ungarese   6:47

Karel Doležal, viola
Norbert Heller, piano

Composers of the past who wrote for chamber ensembles were not particularly inclined to write for solo viola. The prevailing notion suggested that, of all the smaller string instruments, it was the violin which captured the imagination whereas the viola - although essential in the string quartet and other chamber ensembles and, naturally, the symphony orchestra - was merely considered an instrument with a complementary role and was used to enhance the inner fabric of voices. Despite this, many composers were aware of the distinctive beauty of the viola's sound and enthusiastically set about the task of giving it prominence in their music. One of the most important figures of the new Romantic movement - Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809 - 1847) left behind a wealth of works of various genres. In his melodies he developed ideas perfected by Mozart, and in content, musical characteristics and, particularly, musical expression, he drew inspiration from Carl Maria von Weber. It is also known that he was among the first propagators of the Bach legacy and was credited for its revival. Clearly, for this reason Mendelssohns' music frequently contains dramatic echoes of the Baroque. The composer's very early works - between the ages of eleven and sixteen - include a large number of instrumental music, for example, thirteen symphonies, quartets, a violin sonata and also the Sonata in C Minor for Viola and Piano written in 1824 - a further testimony to his premature talent as a composer. Mendelssohn wrote this fairly lengthy composition at the age of fifteen. It is characterised by highly straightforward gradation with little deviation and few unexpected changes. The main focus of the sonata lies in the first movement, the scherzo-like central movement offers an forceful trio section in the form of a grand chorale, whilst the variations of the finale reassure the listener by reintroducing the original mood of the work.
     The majority of the numerous works by Max Reger (1873 - 1916) are instrumental. Brahms provided him with his initial model and from here his musical interests took him back to earlier periods in musical history - to Schumann, Beethoven and, more so than in the case of Mendelssohn, to Bach. Reger's works therefore show the strong influence of tradition and demonstrate an exceptionally meditative creativity. This is particularly evident in his treatment of harmony which enhanced the new ideas of the post-Wagner era. His music is distinctive in that it combines earlier genres, for example, Baroque sonatas, passacaglias and fugues, with modern harmonic expression. The Suite in G Minor No.1 for Solo Viola, op.131 , is part of a cycle of three suites (the other two were written in D major and E minor respectively) composed according to a Bach model. Reger also wrote suites for violoncello and sonatas for solo violin. This work originated towards the end of the composer's life when he began to divide his endeavours between chamber-music and orchestral writing. Immediately after completing this work in 1914, he began his opus 132, the orchestral Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Mozart. It should be noted that Reger's Suite in G Minor, like the composer's other works, was written with a secure knowledge of instrumental technique and requires great application of expression.
     Carl Maria von Weber (1786 - 1826) was first and foremost a composer of opera whose works The Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon are considered of fundamental and, in the case of The Freischütz, epochal significance. Chamber music was not his domain and he rarely wrote for small ensembles. His musical ideas are always highly expressive and original but rarely suited to thematic writing. Patient development of the theme, refinement of instrumental polyphony and calm reflexion are also important prerequisites for chamber music and were fairly unusual for this essential dramatist. The Andante e Rondo ungarese for viola and piano, written in 1809, was adapted from an original orchestral version. He also wrote a later arrangement for bassoon. In the majority of his concerto works, Weber first wrote the slow movement and the finale, before embarking on the first movement. As for the work you will hear on this CD, he simply left the first movement out altogether. This does not make the piece any less fascinating and is not detrimental to its artistic quality. The true extent of Weber's invention always shone through in his dignified, slow movements and his brilliant finales.

Ludvík Kašpárek

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