Monday, 21 April 2014

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

This is the second tranche of contemporary reviews generated by the first performance of Charles Villiers Stanford’s Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major. I have replicated the foot notes where appropriate to assist the reader.  The work (alongwith the remainder of Stanford’s works for violin and piano) can be heard on SHEVA SH100 played by Alberto Bologni and Christopher Howell. The post arose because it was believed that the work had not been performed until the present recording.  The sheet music for this Sonata was published in 2006 by Chiltern Music and is still available from them.

‘A new violin sonata by Dr. Villiers Stanford was played for the first time in London last night. It was very well received.’
Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 08 December 1898

‘...a concert given by two Australian musicians – namely, Mr Kruse [1] and Mr Fischer Sobell [2]– Mr Curtius introduced a new Sonata in A by Dr. Villiers Stanford for violin and pianoforte, a work more or less in the regular form, comprising a first allegro, a slow movement, a prestissimo which replaces the usual scherzo, and a final and bright allegretto. Although these ‘Curtius’ concerts are not open to the public, they are very interesting.’
Glasgow Herald Thursday 08 December 1898

Dr. Stanford’s New Violin Sonata
'The chief interest at the Curtius Club on Wednesday centred in the new violin Sonata in A major, Op.70, by Dr Stanford, which was played for the first time by Mr Kruse and Mr. Fischer Sobell. It is in four movements and shows us the new Stanford, the Stanford who is less complex than the old, the more direct in his utterance. He is not less intellectual, but intellect, emotion and the merely sensuous (which is, after all, an indispensable element in music) are more fairly mixed. I hear on good authority that the Sonata was composed two years ago, but that the first movement was very much changed this spring, chiefly at the suggestion of Mr Kruse. (Musical historians need not be reminded of the classical instance of violinists acting as assessors, so to speak, to composers of violin music). The first movement as it stands is the only one which bears a trace of the composer’s former, perhaps too exclusive, devotion to the Brahmsian ideal. But the Brahms element is not by any means obtrusive.
The second is the most engaging of all, an Irish lament full of tender charm. The third movement is a bright Scherzo and the last movement is also cheerful. It seemed to me that the Finale was too much like a continuation –as far as mood and colour go- of the Scherzo to be quite satisfying. But one feels some diffidence in making such an obvious criticism of a composer like Dr. Stanford. A further hearing may show that he had some reason for his scheme.'
Musical Standard - 8 December 1898

'The Curtius Club concerts have been very well attended. At the last concert a new Violin Sonata by Professor Villiers Stanford was heard for the first time. This proved to be a work of decided interest, the Adagio being especially worthy of praise. The Sonata received an excellent interpretation at the hands of Mr. J. Kruse and Madame Fischer-Sobell [3].  Mr. Fischer-Sobell sang a number of songs with considerable refinement.'
Morning Post - Monday 12 December 1898

[1] 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.
[2] Otto Fischer-Sobell, (1864-1934) husband of ‘Violet.’ Professor of music and tenor. Born in Australia.
[3] 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. 

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