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’ (Mozart) [4:17]
Renate Eggebrecht (violin)
rec. 2015, Clara-Wieck-Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany. DSD
TROUBADISC TROCD01447 [68:53]
I’ve reviewed several of Renate Eggebrecht’s Troubadisc CDs and have invariably admired her challenging repertoire. She is an unflinchingly tenacious musician, and her solo violin discs attest to a profound willingness to engage with writing for the solo violin written in the twentieth-century. She never takes easy options.
Her latest disc explores the solo sonatas and suites of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, though here she is hardly a discographical pioneer. In the helpful notes it’s pointed out that this is the second complete recorded set of the suites and sonatas but in point of fact it’s the third after Ingolf Turban’s inaugural set for Claves, the world premiere recordings, and Alina Ibragimova’s later recording for Hyperion (see review). In any event these 1927 Hindemith cum neo-Bachian works followed closely on the heel of Ysa˙e’s solo sonatas but their premieres took place decades later, between 1984 and 1987, many years after the composer’s death.
Eggebrecht’s probing musicianship is never in doubt but what has remained sometimes problematic is the nature of her tone production and technique. Troubadisc prefers a slightly blowsy acoustic which means that there is often spread to her sound as well, and this means that the tonally focused qualities to be heard in the rival discs, especially Ibragimova’s – the Turban is hard to find now – are not to be heard here. The result is that this is a very resinous, corrosive and sometimes uncomfortable listen, not helped by the flattening out of dynamics. However, those sympathetic to this ethos will note that the composer deliberately cultivated the use of ‘ugly’ sonorities. The second movement of the First Sonata is not shaped very persuasively and at speeds usually significantly slower than Ibragimova’s, she can sound heavy-handed. The fourth movement here is inelegant and abrasive, the finale doughty. The fugue of the First Suite seems to cause problems for her and the result is brittle and unconvincing, even if the effect is to foreground the work’s uneasy alliance with modernity. In fact, this is the least satisfactory performance of the four works.
It’s a great shame that her sound bloats in the Jazz finale of the Second Suite because it’s certainly up to tempo. However, the second movement variations of the Second Sonata is a real trudge, even though she finds some kind of redeeming nobility in the slow movement that succeeds it. She offers as an envoi the fourth movement (only) of Hindemith’s Sonata Op.31 No.2 – stylistically appropriate - but Ibragimova offers Hartmann’s Concerto funebre. I know which I’d rather have.
In fact, I’m sorry to say that for all her intrepid instincts I really can’t recommend this disc.
Previous review: Stephen Greenbank