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Günter RAPHAEL (1903-1960)
Music for violin
Sonatina in B minor for violin and piano, Op.52 (1944) [11:38]
Sonata in A minor, for solo violin, Op.46 No.1 (1940) [8:48]
Sonata in E major, for solo violin, Op.46 No.2 (1940) [11:50]
Duo in G minor for two violins, Op.47 No.1 (1940) [10:42]
Sonata No.3 for violin and piano in C major, Op.43 (1936) [17:01]
Pauline Reguig (violin)
Darius Kaunas (violin: Duo in G minor)
Emilio Peroni (piano)
rec. February-March 2010, Kammermusiksaal der Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Rostock
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0122 [60:12]

Günter Raphael’s life was cruelly bisected by the advent of National Socialism. This process saw performances by leading German musicians (the Busch Quartet, Furtwängler) shrivel, and leading teaching posts rescinded, as Raphael was marked out as a ‘half-Jew’ – Jewish on his father’s side. Illness (TB) stalked him and he was confined to hospital during much of the Second World War but throughout it all, and the subsequent years until his early death, he continued his work. The violin music in this disc, for example, dates from 1936-44.
 
There are five works, for solo violin, violin and piano, and two violins. The earliest is the Sonata No.3 for violin and piano, composed in 1936, a work of considerable lyric flexibility with maybe a touch of Hindemith’s influence in places. Much of that lyric burden is taken by the violin, occasionally in little recitative-like moments, whilst the piano offers supportive commentary. There’s no real slow movement with the central panel taken instead by an allegretto, which is alternately pensive and lyric.
 
Three works were written in 1940 – the two solo sonatas, Op.46 and the Duo for two violins. The solo sonatas are fascinating examples of Raphael’s surety in writing for the instrument, refined and purposeful in slower passages, and more acrid and angular in the faster ones. The writing sits somewhere between the violin music of Reger and Karl Amadeus Hartmann though the winding chromaticism, especially of the E major solo sonata, is slightly reminiscent, too, of Hindemith. Raphael’s cultivation of aria depth, as in the slow central movement of the A minor solo sonata, gives his music a real sense of breadth, finely balanced by the more motoric and driving elements of his finales.
 
The Duo for two violins is in three movements, like all the works in this recital. It’s an ingenious piece with plenty of canonic writing and full of vibrancy in the opening and tersely intense in the finale. In between there is a more contemplative, reserved, refined slow movement. The Duo is of a piece with the other works – and extremely successful. So too are the performances, with Pauline Reguig sounding wholly attuned to the Raphael idiom, and Emilio Peroni’s pianism adding significantly to the success of the volume. Darius Kaunas proves a fine foil in the Duo. These are all first digital recordings; indeed the Sonata in A minor is a first-ever recording. For the more historically minded Raphael’s daughter, Christine, recorded a number of her father’s works and they – competing versions in several instances – can be found on CPO 777 564.
 
Jonathan Woolf