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Ferdinand DAVID (1810-1873)
Salon-Duet Op.25 (c.1850) [8:11]
Suite, Op.43 [11:13]
12 Salon Pieces, Op.24 (1849-50) [40:07]
Three Impromptus in the form of waltzes [16:07]
Stephan Schardt (violin)
Philipp Vogler (piano)
rec. April 2012, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster

Ferdinand David is remembered primarily for his friendship with Mendelssohn. The decade the violinist spent as concertmaster of Mendelssohn’s Gewandhaus orchestra - in all David led the orchestra for fully 37 years - was marked by many triumphs, not the least of which was Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, which was written for David, as was Schumann’s Violin Sonata in D minor. David was active in the city - he was one of the co-founders of the Leipzig Conservatory - but he also composed. This disc resurrects some of those lighter works that post-date Mendelssohn’s death.
David’s earlier works were written for violin and orchestra, which is to say for himself to play at his own concerts. From around 1849/50 chamber works take over. The Salon-Duet was one of the first fruits of this move away from concertante-type pieces, possibly prompted by Mendelssohn’s death. It takes a song by Burns, translated into German, as its starting point, and spins some succulent variations on the theme, which is then subject to some commanding classical cum romantic virtuosity. The Suite, Op.43 is for solo violin and the obvious historical precedent is Bach, some of whose music Mendelssohn had been responsible for restoring to the city’s concert halls. That said, this is neither homage to, nor a simulacrum of Bachian procedure. True, each of the five movements bears the name of a Baroque dance form, but the use to which David puts them differs significantly from Bach. The central Gavotte is perhaps the movement that comes closest to what, in other contexts, Duke Ellington might have called ‘a tone parallel’ to Bach, but as a whole the work was unusual in presenting a solo work in this way. The heyday of the solo violin sonata was well into the future.
The Twelve Salon Pieces, Op.24 show how well David had assimilated compositional models. That said they’re not wholly digested. Thus the Beethovenian scherzo sounds more than a little like the same movement from the Spring Sonata, with which David would have been very familiar. The Romanze could easily be a Mendelssohn Song without Words, there’s an elegantly turned Schumannesque Rondo, a refined Davidian Ballade, and a pawky little March. That David had a pronounced sense of humour can be divined from this set, and in particular Ständchen. The last work in the programme is the undated set of three Impromptus in the form of waltzes. These are ingeniously done, and pay particular regard to the balance of material of both instruments. There’s plenty of melodic and harmonic matter for violin and piano to project, and for repeated phrases to run between them. The central Andantino is very refined and beautiful. It also sounds to me strangely like a French chanson of the 1930s!
This well-planned recital has been well played and recorded, in SACD, and has a full set of notes in German, English and French. Stephan Scardt plays with regard to stylistic niceties and is a communicative player, and Philipp Vogler is not afraid to assert himself in the Impromptus

Jonathan Woolf