Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Charles Villiers Stanford Violin Sonata No.2 – First Performance 7 December 1898

I recently reviewed the three-CD set of Alberto Bologni and Christopher Howell playing the collected works for violin and piano by Charles Villiers Stanford (SHEVA SH100). In the liner notes Howell suggested that the Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major was unpublished and ‘so far as known, unperformed until recently’. I noted in my review that it was actually first heard on Wednesday 7th December 1898 at the Curtius Club, meeting at the Prince’s Galleries in Piccadilly, London. The soloists were Johan Kruse and Mmm. Fischer-Sobell.  I promised to provide these reviews on my blog.  They will be presented in two posts with a very light touch commentary.

At the Curtius Club concert to-night Dr Stanford’s new violin sonata was played for the first time. It was written, I believe, about two years ago, but the first movement has been recast, and in its new shape was only finished this spring. It is in four movements. The first is brisk, and bright and somewhat Brahmslike; the second – the best of all-partakes the character of an Irish lament, the third is a scherzo, merry and ingenious, and the last movement is a manly allegretto. It is throughout in Dr. Stanford’s later vein, in which he has worked more of less consistently since the days of Shamus O’Brian [1] – that is to say, he aims more than he did at pleasing, without, however, in any way aiming less high than of yore. The work should be heard again.
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Thursday 08 December 1898

More than usual artistic interest was attached to the Curtius Club concert, which took place last night at the Prince’s Galleries, [2] by the first production of a MS. sonata for violin and pianoforte in A, Op.70, by Professor Villiers Stanford. The work consists of the usual four movements, which are written on accepted lines. The first number opens in a flowing manner, but, in development of the themes, considerable passion is expressed. This is followed by an ‘adagio molto’, a tender, regretful lament, full of genuine pathos. A vivacious ‘prestissimo’ follows, which in turn gives place to an ‘allegretto’ of genial character, the finale of a work which sustains its composer’s reputation and will be heard again with pleasure. It was sympathetically interpreted by Herr Johann Kruse [3] and Madame Fischer-Sobell, [4] both of whom subsequently played several solos on their respective instruments with great taste and refinement, and closed the evening with Beethoven’s Sonata in A for pianoforte and violin dedicated to Kreutzer. The vocalist, Mr O. Fischer-Sobell, [5] included amongst his songs one entitled ‘Long After,’ by Mr. G.W.L. Marshall Hall, [6]described as a study on Tennyson’s Maud.
London Standard - Thursday 08 December 1898

Notes
[1] Shamus O’Brian, opera composed by Stanford in 1895.
[2] Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Piccadilly
[3] Johann Secundus Kruse (1859-1927), violinist, was born on 22 March 1859 at Melbourne, Australia. He died in London on 4 October 1927. He was the foremost pupil of the renowned violinist, conductor, composer and teacher Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) and later in his career he played in the Joachim Quartet.
[4] Madame Fischer-Sobell, was an elusive character. Little seems to be known about. The ‘madame’ was always part of her professional name and her Christian name is not well-documented. However, I understand that he maiden name was Viola Agnew.
[5] Otto Fischer-Sobell, (1864-1934) husband of ‘Violet.’ Professor of music and tenor. Born in Australia.

[6] George William Louis Marshall-Hall (1862-1915), an English composer, conductor, poet and controversialist. He lived in Australia from 1891 until his death. Wrote a Symphony which was performed in London in 1907. 

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