Schubert, Sonate pour violon et piano en La Majeur D. 574 

Liza Ferschtman, violin
Enrico Pace, piano

Franz Schubert made some momentous decisions prior to composing his fourth and final violin sonata in August 1817. He decided not to return to teaching at his father’s school and he left the family home to move in with his friend, poet and future librettist, Franz von Schober. Originally entitled sonata for piano and violin – the order of instruments is telling – D. 574 represents a grander ambition and requires greater virtuosity than his previous ‘sonatinas’, as was reflected in Diabelli’s decision to posthumously publish it as ‘Grand Duo’ for violin and piano.

The Sonata for violin and piano in A major D. 574, begins in conventional fashion with a sonata-form Allegro moderato. However, Schubert replaces the expected minuet with a fiery Scherzo: presto which flies through far-flung harmonies, before sidling into a central Trio. The Andantino begins with a beguiling melody interrupted by dramatic outbursts. The finale, an Allegro vivace travels through three keys rather than the conventional two in its exposition; something that becomes a fingerprint of Schubert’s sonata forms. In 1825, Schubert adapted its second subject as a dance, his Cotillon in E flat major, D. 976.


Beethoven, Trio pour Piano, Violon, et Violoncelle en Ré Majeur Op. 70 No. 1 ‘Les Esprits’

Enrico Pace, piano
Liza Ferschtman, violin
Sung-Won Yang, cello

In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven was considering writing an opera after Macbeth. Amid the abandoned sketches for that work are ideas for what became the slow movement of his Piano Trio, Op. 70 no. 1, completed the following year. Carl Czerny later made a connection between the Largo assai ed espressivo and another Shakespeare play, hearing in its tremolandi and chromaticisms an evocation of the scene where Hamlet meets his father’s ghost. Hence the nickname of a piano trio written during a summer spent at Countess Marie von Erdödy’s estate in Heiligenstadt.

The outer movements of Op. 70 no. 1 have a brighter outlook than the trio’s spectral centre. The unison opening of the Allegro vivace e con brio breaks off unexpectedly, the cello introducing a theme that, in an 1813 review, E.T.A. Hoffmann described the second theme as ‘expressing a genial serenity, a cheerful, confident awareness of its own strength and substance.’ The fluctuating moods of the final Presto rondo continue to explore unusual harmonies, continuing the playfully questioning of the first movement, before ending with an exuberant coda.




L. Janáček, 2ème Quatuor à Cordes “Lettre Intime”

Quatuor Ardeo

In 1923, the Bohemian Quartet asked Janáček to compose two works for them. The first, known as the ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ after Leo Tolstoy’s novella, was completed quite quickly and given its premiere on 17 October 1924. The second took longer and was eventually performed by the Moravian Quartet on 11 September 1928, weeks after Janáček’s death.

The composer had met Kamila Stösslová in 1917 and immediately became besotted. She was forty years his junior and married with children, but this did not stop the composer sending her more than 650 letters. Their first kiss, on 19 August 1927, apparently inspired the quartet, originally entitled ‘Love Letters’. While Janáček devised a programme for the piece it was not included in the published score and the title was changed to the less provocative Listy důvěrné  (‘Intimate Letters’). Of course this has not stopped critics and scholars speculating about how dialogues between the instruments of the quartet – their contrasting themes and harmonies – might reflect the different stages of their relationship: from first hope to final joy.


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