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Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Violin Sonata in D major Op.16 (1908-09) [17.39]
Violin Sonata in E major Op.46 (1931) [19.16]
Violin Sonata in D major WoO22 (1905 revised 1952) [19.40]
Albumblatt WoO70 91908) [2.09]
Simone Zgraggen (violin)
Ulrich Koella (piano)
Recorded at the Salle de Chatonneyre, Corseaux/Vevey, October 2004
CLAVES 50 2503 [58.35]

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.

Jonathan Woolf




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