ROMANTIC SONATAS

Renaud Capuçon, violin, Khatia Buniatishvili, piano

Thursday, 2 March at 20:30

Khatia and I met over Franck’s sonata,” Capuçon recalls. “This is the sonata that sealed our musical partnership, the sheer joy of playing together.”

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Antonin Dvorak (1841 – 1904)
Romantic Pieces, Op. 75

Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907)
Violin Sonata No 3 in C Minor, Op 45

César- Auguste Franck (1822 – 1890)
Violin Sonata in A Major

 

Renaud Capuçon, violin
For the biography of Renaud Capuçon, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, March 1.

Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
For the biography of Khatia Buniatishvili, please refer to the concert of Wednesday, March 1.

Antonin Dvorak (1841 – 1904)

Romantic Pieces, Op. 75
A wave of national fervor spread over Europe throughout the turbulent years of the 19th century. Antonín Dvořák stands high as a spokesman for benign nationalism in music. He was emphatically a non-political
nationalist, proud of his region’s rich cultural legacy, yet free of any of the “anti” dogmas that sadly were a corollary of the darker side of this same pride.
Dvořák’s lovely Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75, began as a work for two violins and viola designed for two friends, a young student and his teacher, plus the composer (on viola). Deemed by the student as beyond
his capability the kindly composer wrote the simpler work we hear in tonight’s recital. The set opens with an Allegro moderato of unforced lyricism in which the violin takes the primary melodic material over a
rippling piano accompaniment. An assertive peasant dance-inspired Allegro maestoso follows, its rustic energy tempered by intervening lyrical phrases and a more reserved variant on the raucous opening
theme characterized by raised fourth leading to the dominant. Marked Allegro appassionato, the third piece is rather more sweetly lyrical than the heading might suggest. A rising and rhapsodic melody from the violin once again brings back a rippling accompaniment. The concluding Larghetto, the longest movement, suggests heartfelt pathos courtesy of a weeping violin theme over spare arpeggio chords from the piano.

Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907)
Violin Sonata No 3 in C Minor, Op 45
Edvard Grieg was an accomplished pianist and toured regularly, mostly performing his own music. In addition to solo and duo piano pieces, these concerts usually included some of his songs (with his wife a
frequent collaborator) and often one of his three violin sonatas. Grieg considered the sonatas to be among his finest works and he often played the piano part for them, at social gatherings as well as public
concerts. Grieg finished the Third Sonata in January 1887 and he joined violinist Adolf Brodsky in its premiere at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig in December that year. That was highly successful and the Sonata quickly became a popular favorite in Europe.
Grieg was sometimes stereotyped as a miniaturist and folklorist, illsuited to abstraction and the standard classical forms, but this sonata is a big-boned work, and bold in its treatment of sonata form in the two
outer movements. The first movement is a marvel of concentrated themes, relentlessly contrasted and juxtaposed. The central Romanza is A-B-A form, with a serenely lyrical, quasi-folk song in E major wrapped
around a fast, brittle dance in E minor. The finale is also a crisp dance in the main, but with an urgent and mysterious development section and a triumphant apotheosis in C major.

César- Auguste Franck (1822 – 1890)
Violin Sonata in A Major
Franck’s violin sonata has become one of the most familiar and wellloved of the genre. It was written in 1886 as a wedding present for his violinist friend, Ysayë. Presented to the groom on the morning of his
wedding, it was first performed after a hurried rehearsal at the wedding breakfast. It was later given its first public performance at a gallery in Brussels, again with Ysayë playing. The programme was long and as no candlelight was allowed in the gallery, fear grew that the performance of the work would have to be abandoned in the failing light. Fortunately, Ysayë and his pianist played on in the gloom, completing the
performance in almost total darkness from memory. The work itself neatly encapsulates the story of the happy bride and groom. The first movement evokes the first flickers of attraction, eventually building to great outbursts of love. The couple, now together face their first feud in the second movement where the spurned party can be heard in the pleading quieter passages while the violent fury of the faster writing vividly portrays their conflict. All is resolved in the quietly meditative slow third movement before the famous finale cleverly captures the wedding ceremony itself. Written in canon, the violin follows the piano exactly before the roles are reversed, mirroring the repetition of the wedding vows. The quiet, solemn writing evokes prayer and again huge outbursts of emotion punctuate the writing before we once again hear the celebratory Parisienne bells right at the end.