Schubert sonatas

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Renate Eggebrecht: Violin Solo 2
Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942)
Sonata for solo violin (1927) [10.19]
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Sonata for solo violin (1944) [26.06]
Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969)
Sonata for solo violin (1958) [10.24]
Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
Sonatine pastorale for violin solo Op.383 [4.00]
Dimitri NICOLAU (b.1946)
Solo Violin Sonata in Greek Mood Op.228 (2002) [18.57]
Renate Eggebrecht (violin)
rec. Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Heidelberg-Sandhausen, July, September 2005 


Renate Eggebrecht’s first volume of solo violin for Troubadisc was a typically bracing quartet of Reger (Chaconne Op.117/4), Skalkottas, Honegger and Johanna Senfter - the latter little known and therefore doubly valuable – her 1925-30 Op.61 Sonata.

With this second volume Eggebrecht explores a quintet of violin sonatas, albeit the Milhaud is a sliver of a Sonatine pastorale - though this time competition is tough.

This is especially so in the case of the Bartók, where she can’t really mount a challenge to the competition, though it does also apply to a lesser extent to the Schulhoff and Bacewicz. If we start with Schulhoff’s magnificent sonata we find that Eggebrecht deals justly with its strong concise movements but is no match for Antonín Novák on Praga in resinous attack or in attention to tonal detail. The scherzo’s accents are rather too polite here and Eggebrecht’s lower strings have a tendency to sound rather dead, whilst the slashing animation that is so invigorating in Novák’s reading is largely missing from her finale. This is a gutsy, tonally rich work that thrives on a committed performance; Novák effortlessly holds the palm.

Her Bacewicz sonata (one that the composer-violinist herself recorded) comes into direct competition with a recent Chandos disc in which Joanne Kurkowicz takes on a slew of the Polish composer’s violin works. Eggebrecht really rips through it – her rival takes 12.14 and is two full minutes slower – and her commitment and forward momentum can’t be faulted. What I find rather lacking in her performance are precisely those qualities I admired with Kurkowicz; an appreciation of the eeriness of the bowing effects, greater timbral variety and depth of colour, conveyance of the pizzicato passages, and an immediate and attractive recording quality. The Chandos rival conveys the rhetoric with greater clarity as well, and allied to these matters are the question of Eggebrecht’s suspect intonation and a rather undernourished tone.

Milhaud’s charming four-minute piece has a festive Provençal air tinged with baroque affiliations. The second movement romance is the most harmonically testing but the vibrant neo-baroque concluding Gigue is the most high-spirited of the three movements.

The Nicolau Sonata was dedicated to Eggebrecht and it is suffused with some daredevil folkloric drive, influenced by Bartók. Attacks can be resinous but they do convey the atmosphere well, and the Bachian moments - and a certain desolation – momentarily colour the second movement. The irregularity of metre of the finale lends a stomping terpsichorean vigour. A good work and an exciting one.

Given the programme there is no direct competition but in the Bartók, Schulhoff and Bacewicz other performances are, to be brutal, significantly more convincing. If you want a conspectus this will certainly fill a need but for really authoritative performances you must go elsewhere.

Jonathan Woolf





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