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Erwin SCHULHOFF (1824-1942)
Complete music for Violin and Piano
Suite for violin and piano, WV18 [22:12]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Op. 7 [21:44]
Sonata for Solo Violin [13:26]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 [18:26]
Bruno Monteiro (violin)
Joćo Paulo Santos (piano)
rec. Igreja da Cartuxa, Caxias, Portugal, 26-28 April 2016

Erwin Schulhoff, along with Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann and Hans Krasa, is one of the lost generation of Czech composers who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War. Despite being from a well-to-do German-Jewish family, it was probably his communist sympathies that brought him to the attention of the German authorities in Prague, where he was living under an assumed name. In 1941, despite being accepted for immigration to the Soviet Union, he was arrested by the Germans. He was then deported to the Wülzberg concentration camp in Bavaria where he died the following year of tuberculosis.

Schulhoff had originally been encouraged to study music by Antonķn Dvořįk with his earliest pieces showing indebtedness to composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including Richard Strauss. However, he soon began to develop his own style, one that would see him become associated with the likes of Webern, Berg, Bartók and Hindemith. It is this music for which he has become best known. He also showed allegiance to Soviet composers with some pieces embracing communist themes already bringing him to the attention of the Czech authorities.

Of the four works presented here I only knew two, the Sonata for Solo Violin and the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2. In my other recording, by Oleh Krysa and Tatiana Tchekina (BIS-CD-697), the second sonata is denoted as No. 1 Op. 7. Here Bruno Monteiro and Joćo Paulo Santos are considerably slower than Krysa and Tchekina whose performance I prefer. There are times when Bruno Monteiro sounds over-stretched and as if these pieces where new to him. This could be said of the other two pieces, the Suite for violin and piano and the ‘real’ Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1, Op. 7, which although he makes a good fist of it, sounds a little out of his reach and comfort zone. I will be looking for further recordings of these works. Joćo Paulo Santos however, does sound at home, he proves an adept interpreter, bringing out every nuance of the music.

The sound is good. At first I thought it a little over-bright, but with repeated listening I came to the conclusion that it was Bruno Monteiro’s tone and not the recording. The accompanying booklet notes are quite detailed and informative, concentrating on the music rather than the composer. They make a good introduction to these works.

Stuart Sillitoe


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