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Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-1963) 
Sonata No.1 for solo violin (1927) [15:50]
Suite No.1 for solo violin (1927) [19:43]
Sonata No.2 for solo violin (1927) [16:51]
Suite No.2 for solo violin (1927) [10:06]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 31 No. 2 (1924)
4th Movement: Five variations on ‘Komm lieber Mai’ (W.A.Mozart) [4:17]
Renate Eggebrecht (violin)
rec. 2015, Clara-Wieck-Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany. DSD

In one creative outburst in 1927, at the age of only twenty-two, Karl Amadeus Hartmann penned the four solo violin works we have here. Personal circumstances and an indefatigable self-critical attitude with his early compositional efforts resulted in them lying dormant for sixty years. They had to wait until the mid 1980s to be premiered and 1988 to be published. What kick-started them in the first place was probably a chance hearing of Paul Hindemith's Solo Sonata for Viola, Op. 25, No. 1. It left a deep and lasting impression on the young Hartmann and he decided to chance his arm on something similar for violin. It could have been a risky venture as he was a trombonist, yet he seems to have been fully conversant with the limitless possibilities of the fiddle. Hindemith's influence is particularly evident in the third movement of the Sonata No. 1 and the fourth movement of the Sonata No.2.

Much of the music's interest lies in the colourful imaginative harmony that Hartmann employs. Highly dissonant and angular, it borders tonality without taking that final step into the atonal reaches. Most of it is highly dramatic and occasionally sounds mercilessly severe and brutal, as in the second movement of the Second Sonata, where the music is relentlessly savage and unforgiving. Even the Jazz finale of Suite No. 2 is unsmiling and strident.

J.S. Bach was without doubt a profound influence on the young composer, and his Solo Sonatas and Partitas provide a model and inspiration. Hartmann chooses titles such as toccata, fugue and chaconne. His fugal writing is skilful and impressive. A fine example is the second movement’s intensely chromatic Fuge in the Suite No. 1, adept and fluent in its writing. He also takes a leaf from Bach's book in his dance-like movements.

Eggebrecht pays tribute to Hindemith in her short ‘encore’ with the 4th movement from his Sonata Op. 31, No. 2.

Both Alina Ibragimova and Ingolf Turban have recorded Hartmann's solo violin oeuvre, but I've yet to hear them. Renate Eggebrecht has been afforded a top notch acoustic, where the clarity of the music's lines isn't muddied in any way, but emerges clearly defined. Her astonishing musicality and virtuosity make a strong case for this exacting music. The accompanying annotations, in English and German, supply more than enough information.

Stephen Greenbank




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