Amanda MAIER (1853-1894)
Violin Concerto in D minor (1875) [17:16]
Piano Quartet in E minor (1891) [27:29]
Swedish Tunes and Dances for violin and piano, co-composed with Julius Röntgen (1882) [19:12]
Gregory Maytan (violin)
Ann-Sofi Klingberg (piano)
Bernt Lysell (viola)
Sara Wijk (cello)
Ann-Sofi Klingberg (piano)
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Andreas Stoehr
rec. September 2015, Helsingborg Concert Hall (Violin Concerto) and June 2016, Västerås Concert Hall (Piano Quartet and Swedish Tunes)

Amanda Maier was born in Landsjrona in Sweden, the daughter of a German-born father who encouraged her musical precocity. She studied the violin in Stockholm, later becoming a private student of Engelbert Röntgen in Leipzig– whose son Julius she was to marry - and Carl Reinecke. She composed some major works before marriage and among them was the Violin Concerto to be heard in this recording. Her life though was fated to be cruelly cut short and she died of a lung disease at only 41.

The concerto is, in fact, a torso as only the first movement survives – a strongly argued 17-minute Allegro risoluto dating from 1875. From the sound of it the whole concerto would have been getting on for a similar size to the Beethoven. Being an admired young soloist clearly gave her an idiomatic insight into technique and her training in composition and orchestration showed a pliable approach to material. The movement is large-scale and expressive with woodland horns, ascending scales and broken octave writing ā la Beethoven. These qualities co-exist with a rather elfin Mendelssohnian profile too. There are plenty of opportunities for her to play off the solo violin line against deft wind writing and there’s profuse lyric content to be encountered. The extensive cadenza is excellently wrought and cast on an ambitious scale.

It was Grieg, no less, who praised Maier when Julius Röntgen wrote to him about her Piano Quartet. This large-scale four-movement piece dates from 1891 and its imposing size reflects the scale of her ambition. The themes are strong, confidently handled, and the integration of turbulence and ingratiating lyricism in the slow movement is particularly striking. She isn’t afraid to let the piano’s blunt plain speaking dominate in places. There are some striding rhythmic patterns in the scherzo and folk influence in the finale once past the somewhat austere Adagio introduction – with hints of her husband’s own music, as well as that of Grieg. Maybe it’s a touch overlong for the material but it’s never less than invigorating.

The last piece is Swedish Tunes and Dances for violin and piano, co-composed with Julius Röntgen in 1882. This is pure charm and warmth. There are six pieces, encompassing generous lyricism, tangy vivacity, hints of Brahms’s own Hungarian Dances, strikingly lovely tunes, plenty of wit, and Swedish hues and rhythms.

Violinist Gregory Maytan is the principal player on the disc and he plays with assurance, coping well with even the more taxing moments. He’s supported by some excellent performances from chamber and orchestral colleagues, and by conductor Andreas Stoehr. With fine booklet notes and good recording, this is a nice start to this series.

Jonathan Woolf

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