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Joseph MAYSEDER (1789-1863)
Chamber Music - Volume 6
Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat Major, Op. 34 [19:26]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 42 [23:17]
Piano Trio No. 2 in A flat Major, Op. 52 [21:22]
Raimund Lissy (violin), Maria Grün (cello), Srebra Gelleva (piano)
rec. 2018/19, Studio Wavegarden Mitterretzbach, Lower Austria
GRAMOLA 99197 [64:12]

This may be the fifth MusicWeb review of a disc solely dedicated to the music of the Vienna-born composer and violinist Joseph Mayseder; it is my second. The Austrian record label Gramola should be congratulated and thanked for bringing to the listeners’ attention this already seventh disc of Mayseder’s works. Thanks are also due to Raimund Lissy, the likely driving force behind six numbered discs in the series (the recording of the Mass seems to be a stand-alone release). It must be a real labour of love, as not only does he appear as violinist on each disc, but he wrote all liner notes. His scholarship goes further: he has recently published a 780-page book on the composer and his music. It has no competition, and one hopes that it will be translated into English.

Mayseder, a gifted violinist, performed at an early age. At fourteen, he was being conducted by Haydn, whilst at the age of sixteen the likes of Haydn and Salieri described him as skilled far beyond his age. Later in his career as a violinist, Beethoven chose him to play the violin solo in the premiere of his cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick, as well as of the 9th Symphony and some of his string quartets. Mayseder was also asked to act as concertmaster in the premiere of Schubert’s F Major Mass conducted by the composer. He was also held in high regard as a composer. Such luminaries as Vieuxtemps and Liszt were amongst those who chose to perform Mayseder’s music in the nineteenth century. Sadly his music came to be seen as out of fashion in the twentieth century, so that he has become somewhat neglected and is now seen as obscure. Let us hope that the discs in this series, as well as Lissy’s book, change this.

The music presented here is strongly melodic and attractive. I consider the two piano trios the best works on the disc. The B flat Major Trio is instantly enjoyable. The opening movement is dominated by a bright and cheerful main theme. Surprisingly for a violinist composer, the best music is for the piano. The slow second movement, the shortest of the three, has a lilting melodic feel with some clever use of pizzicato strings. Lissy in his booklet notes describes the slow second movement as more of “a longer introduction to the third movement rather than a separate movement”. The third movement, a Rondo, begins with a wonderful bouncing theme which fairly skips along; the piano once again takes the lead in this cheerful music.

The Violin Sonata in E minor opens with what, we are reliably informed, is the longest movement in all of Mayseder’s chamber music, an Allegro in which this time the violin takes the lead. A pleasant opening theme leads into a Ländler-like dance theme reminiscent of Schubert before returning to the original music. The second movement holds with tradition and is an Adagio. The piano writing in particular shows the influence of the composer’s friend Beethoven, as the pleasing violin line sings above the piano. The third and final movement, a charming Allegro, is my favourite of the three, with its pleasing melodic line and essence of humour running through it. There is some fine virtuosic writing for both the violin and piano; it makes the piece attractive but does not quite hit the heights of the piano trios.

The A flat Major Piano Trio is, according to the back cover, the second trio dating from some fourteen years after the first. (This is confusing. According to certain online sources, there seem to be two further trios, both in F Major, Opp. 41 and 51, between the two trios featured on this disc.) It opens with a lovely cello melody over a somewhat muted piano. It is joined by the violin, and the melody really takes off. The slow movement shows the influence of Schubert without slavishly adhering to his form. I quite like the way in which the cello takes the lead again, even if its melody is a little sentimental. The final movement sees Schubert again, this time in the piano which after a brief introduction on the strings introduces the main theme, shared well with the strings. This is perhaps the most memorable of the three movements, notably its dance-like theme, and especially the way in which all instruments blend to create some very nice effects.

This is a very interesting and enjoyable disc. It has aspects of the late classical piano trio mixed with those of the early romanticism, yet it shows Mayseder is more than a traditional composer. It shows a strong development of style. The composer is not afraid to adopt the current trends and develop them for his own purposes, whilst adding his own original touches. I now have three of the six volumes, and the musicianship and skill of Mayseder as a performer shine through in all.

I hope that the excellent trio of Lissy, Grün and Gelleva get the opportunity to record the composers’ other piano trios. Lissy leads the way in his scholarship, performance and dedication to Mayseder’s music. His partners seem to have entered fully into the spirit of the music – and the series. I will be investing in other volumes in this wonderful series. The recorded sound is excellent, as are Lissy’s booklet notes, highly informative and detailed. If the name Joseph Mayseder is new to you, well, this disc can be an ideal starting point to get to know him.

Stuart Sillitoe

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