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Amanda MAIER (1853-1894)
Violin Concerto in D minor, first movement (1875) [17:16]
Piano Quartet in E minor (ca 1894) [27:22]
with Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932)
Swedish Tunes and Dances, for violin and piano (1882) [19:18]
Gregory Maytan (violin)
Ann-Sofi Klingberg (piano)
Bernt Lysell (viola)
Sara Wijk (cello)
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Andreas Stoehr
rec. September 2015, Helsingborg Concert Hall; June 2016, Västerås Concert hall, Sweden

Amanda Maier was born in Sweden to a German émigré father, whose passion for music passed on to his daughter. She was the first woman to gain a music director diploma from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and achieved the highest grades in all subjects. On a visit to Germany to meet her father’s relatives, she found herself in Leipzig, and became a private student at the Conservatory, working with Carl Reinecke and Engelbert Röntgen, father of composer Julius, who she would marry in 1880. She was a gifted violinist, playing the solo part in her own concerto, and undertaking a number of European tours. After her marriage, she stopped playing in public, though she did continue composing to some extent. The family lived in Amsterdam, where they entertained numerous musical luminaries, becoming close friends with the Griegs. Sadly, her life was shortened drastically by what was described as lung disease, thought possibly to have been tuberculosis.

The violin concerto was written during her time in Leipzig, and the influence of the Mendelssohn concerto, which one imagines would have been a set text in that city’s Conservatory, is very strong. Perhaps a little too strong really, because it does frequently sound like parts of a concerto that Mendelssohn might have written on a less inspired day. I don’t wish to be too critical: it is, after all, the work of a student, finding her own voice, and there are some excellent moments. The final two movements have unfortunately been lost.

The piano quartet was her last work, and it was only published after her death. The development in her compositional skills is very apparent. This is dramatic music, well crafted, and the final movement particularly is really fine.

The set of Swedish Dances and Tunes were composed with her husband; it is not clear who was responsible for what. The slower movements are the more interesting.

The booklet notes, in English only, are quite exceptional, with a comprehensive biography, numerous photographs and informative material about the three works. There is a great difference between the acoustic of the two venues: the concerto is much warmer than the chamber pieces. The performances are whole-hearted; I did find the violinist’s tone a little wiry in places.

This recording describes itself as Volume 1, an endeavour by this Swedish label which must be applauded.

David Barker

Previous review: Jonathan Woolf


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