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Beethoven "Spring" Sonata
Ravel Sonata pour violin et piano
Brahms Sonata No.1 in G major, op.78


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Beethoven Sonata No.5 in F, Op.24 "Spring"

The nickname "Spring," attached to the F Major Sonata, was not Beethoven's own, but it is not unsuited to the fresh, melodious nature of this work. The opening Allegro is the first in Beethoven's sonatas that permits the violin to introduce the main theme at the outset as a soloist in its own right. This despite the conventional wording on the title page, which describes the Sonata as "for piano, with a violin". Contrast with this shapely, lyrical melody is afforded by the more robust quality of the second-subject group, upon which most of the development section is based. The second movement is an eloquent, rather florid Adagio in B flat, towards the end of which there is a veiled reference to the tune of the first movement. Following on from this is a brief, rhythmically ingenious scherzo and the S onata ends with a rondo whose refrain has all the charm of the first movement's theme.

Ravel Sonata pour violin et piano

Ravel's Sonata in G major was premiered in Paris in May 1927, with the composer at the piano and Georges Enesco playing the violin part. He and Enesco had been classmates at the Paris Conservatoire together and in this work he is experimenting with his perceived view of the incompatability of the violin and piano. He certainly writes in a very percussive way for the violin, especially in the second movement- "Blues", stemming from his continuing enthusiasm for jazz and his great admiration of the jazz musician's great virtuosity. The last movement is a virtuosic Perpetuum Mobile with perpetual semiquavers for the violin, building to an exciting climax at the end of the work.

Brahms Sonata No.1 in G major, op.78

Brahms wrote his first Violin Sonata in G major whilst on holiday in Portschach, Austria in 1879. He wrote this sonata along with the subsequent A major and D minor sonatas for the great violinist Joseph Joachim, and the same lyrical effusiveness that is evident in the Second Symphony, also composed in Austria, pervades this work too. In the first movement a seemingly unending melody is introduced rhapsodically by the violin over gentle chords from the piano, before the roles are reversed, however the two roles are always perfectly complemented. An agitated development section leads to moments of intense drama, but these are soon laid to rest as the main them returns, but the coda of the movement reintroduces a defiant mood, slightly at odds with the rest of the piece. The second movement brings a different sort of lyricism, intense in a probing and mystifying way. When the first theme returns, it seems to offer consolation after some unspoken tragedy. The final movement employs quotations from the Brahms song "Regenlied", the mood of nostalgia is unmistakable and the work ends gently and wistfully. Clara Schumann wrote of this Sonata "I wish the last movement could accompany me in my journey from here to the next world". Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso was written in 1859 at the request of the Spanish virtuoso violinist Pablo Sarasate. Saint-Saens remembered him as "Fresh and young as spring itself, the faint shadow of a moustache on his upper lip, he was already a famous virtuoso. As if it were the easiest thing in the world, he had come quite simply to ask me to write a concerto for him". Charmed, Saint-Saens agreed at once, and wrote his A major violin concerto, followed by this shorter work. There is a reflective opening, almost like an operatic recitative, before the dazzling aria full of fireworks, tailor-made to show off Sarasate's famed technique.


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