Friedrich KIEL (1821-1885)
Viola Sonata in G minor (1876) [24:28]
Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Three Fantasy Pieces, Op. 43 (1857) [13:03]
Henry XXIV, Prince REUSS (1855-1910)
Viola Sonata Op.22 (1904) [18:18]
Anna Kreeta Gribajcevic (viola)
Oliver Triendl (piano)
rec. December 2014, Bürgerhaus Pullach, Munich
TYXART TXA15067 [56:05]

This is an unusual trio. Kiel is best remembered, if he’s remembered much at all, for his more famous pupils, among them Paderewski, Buths, Cowen and Stanford. As for Reinecke, his long life encompassed distinguished academic positions and composition in many genres, though it’s his piano works that have survived. Of the musical Prince Reuss, Henry XXIV, holder of the ancestral seat in Lower Austria, the most intriguing detail is that, in addition to his tuition from Heinrich von Herzogenberg, he also took composition lessons from Brahms.

The three viola works in this disc range over roughly the period of half a century. Reinecke’s Three Fantasy Pieces of 1857, somewhat conventional though they may be, evince a decided romanticist warmth that appeals, allied to a playful wit in the central fast movement and a festive ‘Vanity Fair’ quality in the final panel of the three. This loquacious little piece makes a fine impression in this performance. Kiel’s Sonata op. 67 is one of the few big Viola Sonatas of the time – you’d need to look to Anton Rubinstein’s for the precedent of an earlier, large-scale work of this kind. It’s cast in four movements. The piano is fully the partner of the viola in this recording and its vitalising presence shows a confident equality of thematic distribution. There’s plenty of stormy figuration in this work with the piano occasionally building itself up to quite a fervent pitch – almost covering the viola it has to be said at one or two moments – but there’s an appealing lyrical impetus to enjoy as well, though I don’t share the note-writer’s conviction that its scherzo B section is all that melancholy. The most formally interesting movement is the last where the hunting-horn motifs are constantly subjected to a kind of watering-down so that their recurrence leads to a renewed and very deliberate deflation. Anna Kreeta Gribajcevic and hard-working Oliver Triendl – whom I seem to review every week (or that’s what it feels like) – prove admirable guides to this entertaining sonata.

Reuss’s Sonata was composed in 1904 and is Brahmsian in spirit though very much more circumspect compositionally. There’s a deft warmth to the central slow movement and a jovial, engaging finale, fall of terpsichorean imperatives – though it’s not especially distinctive.

This label is making a fine job of presenting the works of Hermann Goetz and Robert Fuchs so neglected or indeed forgotten works of this period are its metier. These well-considered and finely recorded viola pieces are fully up to the standards already set.

Jonathan Woolf

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