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Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Sonata No.1 for violin solo, Op.82 (1964) [25:31]
Sonata No.2 for violin solo, Op.95 (1967) [16:35]
Sonata No.3 for violin solo, Op.126 (1979) [22:34]
Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)
Fugue for violin solo (1953) [3:33]
Renate Eggebrecht (violin)
rec. April 2015, Clara-Wieck-Auditorium, Sandhausen
TROUBADISC TRO-CD01450 [68:48]

The Weinberg renaissance is going from strength to strength. Sadly it wasn’t witnessed by the composer who, at the time of his death in 1996, was almost completely forgotten. Although these three solo violin sonatas are a new experience for me, I see that they have been recorded before, all three by Linus Roth on Challenge Classics, or singly on labels such as Toccata and ECM.
Weinberg’s first venture into the genre, with the Solo Violin Sonata No. 1, Op 82, was in 1964, and a year later it was premiered by its dedicatee Mikhail Fichtenholz. Cast in five contrasting movements, its technical demands on the soloist are unforgiving. Renate Eggebrecht steps up to the mark admirably with an authoritative performance of breathtaking impact. For me, the work has a close affinity with the Bartók Solo Sonata. The first movement is frenzied, harsh and spiky. Its broken chords are vehement and intense and certainly pack a punch. In total contrast the Andante, which follows, is laden with despondency and anguish, with the violin a lonely figure wandering through stark terrain. The third movement is mercurial and flighty, where pizzicatos alternate with lightly bowed figurations. Then comes a Lento, theatrical and declamatory. Here the composer seems to vent his anger, with the finale somewhat in the manner of a moto perpetuo.

It's striking how daring and highly original the Solo Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 95 is. Composed three years later in 1967, its mood is definitely more upbeat than that of its predecessor. Again it was dedicated to Mikhail Fichtenholz. An enigmatic work, Weinberg experiments, summoning up a panoply of contrasting moods over a seven-movement span (Monody; Rests; Intervals; Replies; Accompaniment; Invocation; Syncopes). All the movements are brief, the longest, ‘Invocation’, is of only 3˝ minutes duration. Rests’ is unusual, it's stop/start rhythm sounding rather quirky. ‘Replies’ is the most lyrical, interspersed with some squally pizzicatos. Probing introspection informs ‘Invocation’, with Eggebrecht’s vibrant double stops and high position bowing proving viscerally potent, as do the coruscating salvos of ‘Syncopes’.
The composer waited another ten years, until 1979, before his third foray into the medium. The Third Sonata, Op. 126 bears the dedication “To the Memory of my father”. The work is in one extended movement of twenty two minutes. Despite this, many disparate moods are explored, as the listener is taken on an emotionally soul-searching journey. Moments of high drama sit side by side with periods of anguished lyricism. Severe, dissonant and atonal would briefly sum up the sound world. Weinberg's vision isn’t exactly an easy one, and it all amounts to a fairly unsettling experience. Eggebrecht has the full measure of the thorny narrative, grasping fully its complexities. The music is never permitted to sag, with a tight rein maintained as she contours the ebb and flow of its undulating and tortuous narrative.
Alfred Schnittke’s Fugue for solo violin, penned in 1953, offers a pleasing filler. Once again, Eggebrecht’s technique is admirable, not only in achieving flawless intonation, but delineating the contrapuntal strands of this intensely complex short score.

The violin has been warmly recorded in an acoustic which is favourable to the music’s dense intricacies, allowing clarity and definition. The helpful annotations, in English and German, have been written by Egbert Hiller.

This is deeply rewarding music, in imaginative, inspired and resourceful performances.

Stephen Greenbank



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