Comparative version(Guild CD)
Schoeck’s muse was
Stefi Geyer for whom he nursed a passion
that was ultimately to be thwarted.
The first of his violin sonatas pre-dates
his first meeting with her but demonstrates
many of the freshest qualities that
admirers have come to know and love
about his music. Its rather windy rhetoric
may initially give the impression of
long windedness and the Brahmsian gestures
may bring a slight smile but he had
only just completed his studies with
Reger and the most impressive features
are to come in the second movement.
This is a set of variations, graceful,
charming, maybe ultimately unmemorable
but endearingly put together.
The D major sonata
was written in 1908 and 1909 and it
was dedicated to Geyer. It has a young
man’s freedom and whilst the notes rightly
refer to the Reger connection and to
this being a rather Regerian sonata
it might be as well to concentrate on
the Franco-Belgian inheritance that
is so clearly present, not least in
the first movement where the sense of
Franckian lyricism is at its most sweeping
– note those stormy piano passages as
well as the violin’s flights. The warm,
lyric cantilena of the slow movement
alternates with more active baroque
figuration and this acts as an oasis
before the tricksterish japes of the
finale. This is a wickedly engaging
movement, full of little whimsical cameos,
rhythmic snap and sap and a constant
delight. It’s really delightfully played
here as well – fiddle players, please
get down to the practice room and take
this sonata with you.
The E major sonata
is a much later work, dating from 1931.
In its easeful lyricism it resembles
the opening of the D major, an impression
heightened by the painterly daubs of
the neo-baroque in the brilliantine
scherzo – aerial lines, puckish pizzicati.
A deeper vein is struck in the opening
of the finale where one feels Schoeck
grasping once more for the phantom figure
of Geyer – before a variational final
section, only so-so unfortunately, ends
his journey. As an easeful finale we
get a sweet 1908 Albumblatt, doubtless
engraved with Geyer’s name.
This is an excellent
disc. It’s not the first Schoeck sonata
disc on the market and I certainly hope
it won’t be the last. The Zgraggen-Koella
duo never over-play their hands and
maintain a proper balance between distance
and emotive press. I enjoyed their playing
and the acoustic. Claves should be pleased
with their offering.