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Philipp JARNACH (1892-1982)
Piano Sonata II (1952) [24:02]
Aria for violin and piano Op.10a (1918-22) [5:15]
Romancero 1 – Sonatina for piano Op.18 (1924) [16:57]
Three Rhapsodies – Chamber Duo for violin and piano Op.20 (1927) [11:29]
Kolja Lessing (piano)
Ingolf Turban (violin)
rec. Funkhaus am Wallrafplatz, Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, June 2004 (Op.10a and Op.20) and December 2005
CAPRICCIO CAP67188 [57:39]

There have been fine Jarnach chamber and instrumental discs before. The pianist on this Capriccio release for instance, Kolja Lessing, contributed materially to the success of a Divox CD devoted to songs and sonatas – including the Sonata for solo violin and the Sarabande for piano (Divox 29801). Lessing is again at the centre of things in this release.
Three of the works are relatively early – all written in the teens or twenties – and one, the formidable Second Piano Sonata dates from 1952. All reveal the close connection between Jarnach’s writing and Busoni’s New Classicism, an inheritance that gives great weight but also lyrical reflectiveness to Jarnach’s scores. The 1952 Sonata for example has exceptional clarity whilst discharging clear debts to Busoni and through him to Bach. It’s a sonata that embraces the elliptical as well as the Late Romantic, reflective as well as more chordally extrovert. The finale’s march mottos and fugal feints are part of a pattern of sometimes cryptic tonality, though Jarnach’s harmonies are invariably nourishing and complex.
The early Aria for violin and piano, composed between 1918 and 1922 demonstrates how deep rooted was the Bach-Busoni inheritance. It’s based on the Andante of Bach’s second Sonata in A minor for solo violin with its late Romanticism coloured by some impressionist harmonies. The strength of the piece derives from the tension between the two undoubted influences. Lessing is an adept violinist as well as a fine pianist but here the honours are taken by Ingolf Turban who proves massively committed to the Aria’s expressive arsenal – really committed playing
The Three Rhapsodies date from 1927, the year Jarnach accepted a chair of composition at the Musikhochschüle in Cologne. These are rhythmically charged and exciting pieces, variously based on baroque procedure and more reflective of current trends in dance based music – though one shouldn’t suggest that these are even remotely similar to the kind of Weill-Schulhoff-Haas approach to dance and jazz music. The impressionism is subtle, the rhythms quixotic, and the writing and associated co-ordination questions between the two instruments sound demanding. Turban and Lessing ensure triumphantly that such matters are subordinated to strictly musical matters.
Romancero 1 was written slightly earlier, in 1924. It has a satisfying tonality, and manages to embraces a sort of modified narrative-ballad structure to increasingly beneficial results. The central movement is a brief, jazzy scherzo and the finale an alternately rather terse and driving one, rich in melodic strands and incident.
Jarnach has been well served here once again. The recording quality is fine, the documentation thorough and the performances outstanding.
Jonathan Woolf


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