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Hugo REINHOLD (1854-1935)
Traumbilder, Op.63 (1908) [10:21]
Klavierstücke, Op.52 (1894) [12:40]
Violin Sonata, Op.24 (1881) [34:47]
Tomasz Bolsewicz (violin)
Aleksandra Milcarz (piano)
rec. 2014, Music Academy in Wrocław
DUX 1291 [57:51]

Biographical detail about Hugo Reinhold seems to be thin on the ground. In fact, Dux manages barely one hundred words on the subject, and adds nothing at all about the music performed. Thus, one is really on one’s own. I’ve added supposed compositional dates to the two piano cycles and Violin Sonata, but these are based on publication dates.

Reinhold was born in 1854 in Vienna and studied piano under Julius Epstein and composition with no less than Bruckner. He won the Beethoven Award for his Suite Op.7 for piano and string orchestra but otherwise the trail is cold. He was a long-serving professor at the Imperial Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna. Piano cycles occupied him compositionally speaking though he also wrote song cycles and a few sonatas and larger-scaled works. I suppose this suggests a miniaturist of sorts. Maybe he had limited time for composition, given his extensive teaching practice.

Was it pure coincidence that his Violin Sonata of 1881 shares the same opus number as Beethoven’s Spring Sonata? I suspect not. This four-movement work is a songfest from beginning to end: pliant, pleasing, lyrical, and largely Schubertian rather than Brahmsian. The slow movement is a theme and nine variations, which are well contrasted. Genial dance paragraphs are followed by tangier variations and there is something High Romantic about the effusiveness of the creamy, luxurious themes. This applies as much to Reinhold’s own instrument as to the violin. The scherzo sounds like a Schubertian ländler, good-natured and echoing his Violin Sonatinas, perhaps. The confident and conversational finale occasionally suggests the Schumann-Brahms axis but otherwise it is light of touch and unserious.

Traumbilder, Op.63 bears a publication date of 1908. Whether the cycle was meant deliberately to evoke Stephen Heller’s earlier set of the same name we will perhaps never know but Reinhold’s set of five very brief pieces offers concentrated, lightly characterful pleasures. The opening is quite haunting in its effect, there’s a gracious dancing Allegretto, quite sprite-like, a sensitive Larghetto and a Chopinesque Allegro con brio to bring things to an end. The Klavierstücke, Op.52 bears a much earlier publication date of 1894. It offers three diverse character studies, music of much more boldness and extroversion then to be found in the companion piano cycle. The Novellette is decidedly Schumannesque, and there’s a delightful Phantasiestück which leans more to Chopin – vibrant, fresh and imaginative.

The performances are thoroughly convincing all-round, and the recording quality is equally sympathetic.

Reinhold seems to have been one of the many conscientious, talented and heritage-conscious composers and teachers of the time. His music is attractive, and happy to bask in tradition.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Rob Barnett

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