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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: 15 minutes 12 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 2, WV91
November 1927; first performed by Schulhoff and violinist Richard Zika in Geneva on 7 April 1929

Andante  [3'37]
Allegro risoluto  [3'23]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata No 2 for violin and piano WV91 was composed in November 1927, right after the Esquisses de jazz (which includes a Charleston, Tango and Black Bottom). But it’s not jazz that is the strongest influence here but the music of Béla Bartók, which Schulhoff greatly admired. However, Schulhoff’s mature language is quite distinctive, and in this piece he makes use of some cleverly devised motivic organization that unifies the whole sonata. The first movement opens with an energetic, rhythmical violin theme which generates further ideas as the movement progresses—the contrasting second theme has some of the same rhythmic fingerprints, and the results are cohesive and compelling. But Schulhoff takes things further: the short Andante begins with slow, tolling, piano chords, but the violin starts with the same rhythmic motif as the first movement—two accented semiquavers followed by a long note—and this idea pervades the whole sonata. Indeed, the third movement Burlesca opens with the self-same rhythm, albeit in a very different context. At the start of the finale, Schulhoff reprises the opening of the first movement before moving in new directions that are propulsive and exciting. At the very end, it is the same group of three notes that drives the music to its close, marked molto feroce. Though it works well as a means of providing formal coherence, this little rhythmic cell is one that is to be found all over Schulhoff’s music of this period: the Double Concerto and Piano Sonata No 3, both written in the same year as the Violin Sonata No 2, have movements that make use of the same rhythmic motif. It was clearly a musical gesture that obsessed the composer at the time. The first performance of the Second Violin Sonata was given in Geneva on 7 April 1929 with violinist Richard Zika and Schulhoff himself at the piano.

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2011

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