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Hyperion Records

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Woman with Blue Eyes (detail) (c1918) by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67930
Recording details: November 2011
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: September 2012
Total duration: 19 minutes 24 seconds

'What a strikingly inventive work the D minor Sonata is, particularly when played with such passion, purity of tone and poignancy as it is on this disc … a revelatory programme, performed with rare panache' (Gramophone)

'You're unlikely to find more sympathetic and committed performances than these: Tanja Becker-Bender's phrasing of Respighi's long lines and her range and subtlety of colour give both Sonatas every chance to make their mark. She is admirably partnered by Péter Nagy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The young Ottorino Respighi, a contemporary of Puccini, looked north over the Alps for his musical influences, writing firmly in the Austro-German tradition and with an astonishingly assured Brahmsian sweep. At 19 he was already an accomplished violinist, giving the instrument long, singing lines in his Sonata in D minor, which Tanja Becker-Bender exploits to the full here. The 1917 B minor Sonata is an altogether more intense affair, with a complex harmonic structure beautifully delineated by Péter Nagy' (The Observer)

'The Five Pieces of 1906 … reveal a talent for light and shade that recalls the easygoing formality of Elgar's violin miniatures. None captures this better than the third of the set, a 'Madrigale', which inspires some of Tanja Becker-Bender's most charming playing … piano and violin are balanced well, with neither pushed forward at the expense of the other, and Nigel Simeone's booklet notes deliver detailed and insightful commentary on this rarely travelled path of the violin's repertoire' (International Record Review)

Cinque Pezzi
published in 1906 by Edition Mozarthaus, Vienna

Aubade: Vivace  [3'20]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Five Pieces were published in 1906 by Edition Mozarthaus in Vienna. It may seem curious that a largely unknown young Italian composer was appearing in print in the Austrian capital, but Mozarthaus had been acquired in 1903 by Carlo Schmidl, a noted musical lexicographer and publisher born in Trieste who established the firm of C Schmidl & Co there (shown as the co-publisher, along with Hofmeister of Leipzig, on the title page of Respighi’s pieces). Schmidl became a tireless proponent of Italian music both ancient and modern, from arias by Cavalli to Busoni’s opera Die Brautwahl. The Five Pieces by Respighi were probably not intended to be played as a set (each was published separately), but they form a very attractive sequence starting with a charming Romanza in which a long violin melody unwinds over repeating piano chords. The Aubade is a light-hearted piece with a subsidiary idea that seems to suggest the colouring of gypsy music. Apart from a short central section, the Madrigale is based on a theme that is never allowed to become predictable despite its apparent simplicity, since Respighi cleverly varies the lengths of phrases. The Berceuse presents a tender melody on muted violin (marked to be played dolcissimo) over an accompaniment that becomes more elaborate—decorated by trills—while remaining constant and calm. The longest of the five pieces is the Humoresque, which opens, after a few piano chords, with a flamboyant violin cadenza introducing some of the musical ideas that follow. A slower central section sees a move from G minor to G major, and the transformation of one of the ideas already heard into a more yearning theme—a process echoed just before a dash to the close. The first three pieces are dedicated to Umberto Supino, and the last two to Mario Corti. Both were fellow Sarti pupils, and both had participated in the first performance of Respighi’s most important chamber work to date—the Piano Quintet, given at the Liceo musicale on 8 June 1902 when Supino had played the second violin and Corti the viola (much later, Respighi dedicated his Poema autunnale for violin and orchestra to Corti).

from notes by Nigel Simeone © 2012

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