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Hyperion Records

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The Broken Key (1938) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Sprengel Museum, Hannover / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67833
Recording details: April 2010
Beethovensaal, Hannover, Germany
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: February 2011
Total duration: 20 minutes 5 seconds

'Tanja Becker-Bender can muster both impressively full tone and a not inappropriate astringent edge. No mean virtuoso, her previous release for Hyperion was an acclaimed set of Paganini Caprices and it helps that the company provides a helpful booklet-note that does not over-egg the contextual pudding … worth a punt' (Gramophone)

'The young German violinist Tanja Becker-Bender offers absolutely stunning playing throughout this warmly recorded disc. She makes light work of the formidable technical challenges … her exemplary partnership with Markus Becker recaps equally enthralling musical rewards … the Suite is projected with great charm and elegance. Perhaps most impressive of all is their performance of the Second Sonata. Here Becker-Bender and Becker face competition from the highly rated recording by Gidon Kremer and Oleg Maisenberg on Warner. Yet this new version fizzes with an even greater degree of propulsion and exuberance … altogether this is an outstanding release that can be confidently recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'There is some challenging music here for both players and it receives performances of the highest quality, as though this music were at the very centre of the standard repertoire instead of well beyond its fringes. Tanja Becker-Bender's tonal palette is wide, not shying away in the least from the occasional heathly dig into the strings; she seems totally at home with the material and certainly has an edge in power and musical range over the relatively lithe approach of her predecessor Ivan Zenatý for Supraphon' (International Record Review)

'The performances are first rate. Tanja Becker-Bender is the assertive, often spectacular violinist. Pianist Markus Becker does fine things with accompaniments that can sometimes seem ungrateful and predominantley supportive' (The Guardian)

'Tanja Becker-Bender has no problem negotiating her way through this stylistic plurality. She indulges to charming effect the playfulness of the early suite, where shades of Korngold intertwine with the sinuousness of early Schoenberg … it's a measure of her responsiveness to the varying demands of the music that she can alter her sound so well to what is required of her at any one point … Markus Becker is a supportive duo partner throughout and the recording of both players is well balanced' (The Strad)

Sonata for violin and piano No 1, WV24
June 1913; Cologne; Opus 7; first performed by Schulhoff and violinist Ervina Brokešová at the ISCM Festival in Prague on 29 May 1924; some editions give movement markings in Italian: Allegro risoluto – Tranquillo – Presto – Allegro molto

Wuchtig  [6'16]
Ruhig  [4'51]
Scherzo: Bewegt  [2'00]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Completed in June 1913, as Schulhoff turned nineteen, the Sonata No 1 for violin and piano WV24 (Op 7) was a product of his years of study in Cologne. Vlastimil Musil describes it in the preface to his edition as ‘a work bearing the mark of Schulhoff’s search for his own musical expression’. The first two movements are much more complex harmonically than the less developed third and fourth movements, but there’s a marked advance from the Suite in terms of Schulhoff’s harmonic language and this can be attributed in large part to a discovery he made in 1912: the music of Claude Debussy. The first movement is cast in sonata form and is rich in Debussy-like harmonies, while the second (Ruhig – the tempo markings for the Sonata No 1 are as given in Josef Bek’s work catalogue. The published edition of this Sonata edited by Vlastimil Musil (Panton, Prague, 1966) uses Italian markings as follows: 1. Allegro risoluto; 2. Tranquillo; 3. Presto; 4. Allegro molto.) demonstrates Schulhoff’s gift for spinning long lyrical lines. The Scherzo is capricious and slightly unsettled, not only in its anxious outer sections but also in the trio section which suggests a deformed chorale tune. The opening idea of the finale dominates much of its musical argument, interrupted by contrasting slower sections (in which the spirit of Debussy is never far away). The Sonata had to wait more than a decade for its first performance, given by Schulhoff himself and the violinist Ervina Brokešová at the ISCM Festival in Prague on 29 May 1924—by which time Schulhoff was a very different composer.

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2011

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