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MGB Records (German) (French

Hansheinz Schneeberger
Rezitativ und Hymnus für Violine allein (1960) [11:59]
Kolja LESSING (b. 1961)
Metaphysische Muse in einer con der Abendsonne beleuchteten Strasse ( 1979) [3:39]
Friedemann TREIBER (b. 1971)
Prelude for Violin solo (2002) [7:14]
Balz TRÜMPY (b. 1946)
Intertwined Paths (2001/02) [23:27]
Eric GAUDIBERT (b. 1936)
Capriccio for solo violin (1978) [6:25]
Heidi BAADER-NOBS (b. 1940)
Duo pour Hansheinz (1996) [6:42]
Elliott CARTER (b. 1908)
Four Lauds für Geige solo (1984/2000) [13:16]
Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin)
rec. Radiostudio Zürich, 23-25 March, 16 June 2006

This is one disc of a trio of “Grammont Portrait” recordings released by Musiques Suisses. Each has a specific focus, one highlighting the ensemble named æquatour (their name is apparently uncapitalized), another showcasing the compositions of Mela Meierhans, and this one, a programme performed by violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger. All three discs are attractively packaged and presented, with insightful liner notes that not only discuss aspects of the unfamiliar pieces, but also contain interviews with the artists involved. Four of the works on this disc are dedicated to Schneeberger who discusses the background to his choice of works for this programme.
This disc was for me — and may well be for numerous others — an introduction to Schneeberger. He was born in 1926 in Bern - some online resources indicate 1928 as his birth year - studying music with Carl Flesch and Boris Kamensky. He was a member of various quartets and served as the concertmaster for the NDR Orchester, performing the premiere of Bartók’s first Violin Concerto.
Now, on to the pieces. Of the composers listed, most will recognize only Elliott Carter — what we have here is a survey of some mostly very new and certainly seldom-played pieces, opening with the Rezitativ und Hymnus of Rolf Looser, the earliest piece on the disc. Schneeberger mentions in his notes that the piece is reminiscent of the Andante of Bach’s solo sonata in A minor, and brief phrases certainly do raise the vaporous outline of that piece, along with, more substantially, snatches of Shostakovich - parts of the Op. 77 cadenza and Nocturne movement spring to mind in the very movingly-performed Rezitativ section - and Schnittke. The Hymnus movement follows without a break — the narrative line is soon interwoven with other ‘voices’ that gain in complexity and intensity. It’s a sombre work and one well worth in-depth listening to ponder the intricacies of its unfolding.
Metaphysische Muse is dedicated to Schneeberger, who also performed its premiere in 1980. It sounds from the outset as if it was going to continue on the same turf trodden by Looser’s work, but it is soon evident that this is a more cadenza-like piece, more extrovert, though not affable by any means. The piece is astonishing, having come from the pen of an at-the-time seventeen-year-old Lessing. Here, as with the Looser piece, we have a superimposition of voices and a rather sombre outlook. The piece ends mysteriously with a pianissimo double-stopped trill that evaporates off the strings.
The youngest composer in this programme is Friedemann Treiber, with the Prelude, written in 2002. He is currently the violinist for the Basel-based Ensemble Phoenix. He has appearances on various labels, including Col Legno and Meta, with a varied repertoire, from Piazzolla to Gerald Eckert. The Prelude begins rather mournfully building rapidly to some fleet-fingered passagework. Treiber mentions in his brief comment on the work that the piece is intended to fit between an improvisatorial prelude and the strictures of a 12-tone row-based structure. Prelude certainly has aspects of both, the rapid-fire sections give the impression of improvisation while the paths those passages take give the impression that the work is grounded on more than whim. This piece and Rezitativ und Hymnus are certainly standouts on this disc.
The oldest and certainly best-known of the composers represented on this recording is Elliott Carter, with his 4 Lauds, all composed separately over the course of six years as gifts and salutes to fellow composers and artists: Aaron Copland, Goffredo Petrassi, Roger Mann and Roger Sessions. I’ve found Carter’s music rather uncompromising and often rather inaccessible in the past and these pieces do not depart from that. They are arresting and are convincingly played by Schneeberger.
Overall, the playing here is wonderfully controlled and assured, and the recording aesthetic is intimate while still giving a sense of aural space and ambience. The performances here have been crisply and cleanly captured. Schneeberger mentions in his introduction that the programme could be seen alternately by the contrasts the pieces have with each other or the similarities they have. In listening to this collection of challenging music — all of the pieces here place demands on the listener — the pieces all have a similarity in their starkness and even occasional bleakness, but it is interesting that they approach such territory from widely differing directions. For those up for a challenge and who are interested in new and little-played music exceedingly well-played, this disc comes recommended
David Blomenberg


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