Hans HUBER (1852-1921)
Phantasie in G minor op.17 (1871) [24:46]
Violin Sonata No. 5 in E major op. 112 (1891) [19:47]
Violin Sonata No. 6 Appassionata in D minor op. 116 (1893) [30:04]
Gilles Colliard (violin)
Timothy Altweg (piano)
rec. Wyastone, Monmouth, 5-7 September 2010.
GUILD GMCD 2371 [74:40]

Huber's eight symphonies (1882-1920) have been tackled exhaustively by Sterling. It remains to be seen who will square up to the challenge of the four piano concertos, the five operas (1894-1918), the Violin Concerto and the Suite for cello and orchestra. This Swiss composer's symphonic technique tended towards the picturesque rather than any concentrated adherence to sonata-form or harmonic transformation. None of that diverted him from expatiating at length and in quantity in the chamber music form. There are two piano quintets, a piano sextet, two piano quartets, five piano trios, five cello sonatas, three piano sonatas and eleven violin sonatas.

The Phantasie is a sonata manqué in four movements, the second of which plays intriguingly with ideas that echo Beethoven's Fate motif and Sibelius's Finlandia. The third mixes exuberance and anxiety in a sort of supercharged Erlkonig. The two outer movements exult in a Schumann like torrent of song-lofted action, confident and smiling. The Fifth Sonata dates from one of his super-productive chamber music periods. A more Olympian mood is at play in the first movement making way for a fast gambolling presto agitato with Mendelssohnian overtones. The final Allegretto is solicitous, blithe of countenance without fatuity and with melody welling up and a most touching line in Fauré-like lyricism. The Sixth Sonata is also in three movements. We are told that the first of these is based on themes from Huber's early Violin Concerto. Huber again adopts the irrepressibly cantabile-inclined manner of Fauré set amid a Brahmsian melos. The dedicatee was Jeno Hubay. This is high-flown romantic writing combining celerity with romance and heroism.

The complementary notes really do make a difference. It comes as no surprise to read Robert Matthew-Walker's name at the end. Colliard and Altwegg have burrowed into this music and know its outward appearance and the sinews and musculature of this late-romantic material.

Rob Barnett

Colliard and Altwegg know the outward appearance and the musculature of this late-romantic material.