Hyperion Records

Sonata for Piano and Violin
That ‘piano-and-violin sonata’ – interesting that Walter should bill the piano first, as was conventional when the violin sonatas of both Beethoven and Brahms were published – was first performed on 9 March 1909. The style suggests that Walter may have been familiar not only with the Brahms violin sonatas (hardly surprisingly), but that he may already have come across the music of the then nine-year-old Wunderkind, Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He certainly knew Erich’s critic father, Julius, who had regularly dismissed Walter’s compositions in the Neue Freie Presse; and in 1908, according to Julius Sternberg, a fellow Viennese critic, Walter moved into a flat in the Theobaldgasse, downstairs from the Korngolds, where he could hear the young Erich indulging his imagination at the piano.

The expansive first movement of Walter’s Violin Sonata, marked Allegro con espressione begins in a confident A major but its complicated motivic development – based on a knocking shape that looks and sounds rather like a retrograde inversion of Beethoven’s ‘fate’ motif from the Fifth Symphony – soon begins to manifest considerable tonal instability as it modulates through C, A flat, F sharp minor, C sharp major, D minor, E flat major and F sharp minor, sometimes for only the briefest of moments, before eventually settling on A major. The Andante serioso second movement, which sets out in F sharp minor, threads the three-note tail of the knocking figure through an argument that shows only slightly more tonal stability than the first movement: G major, F sharp minor, B flat major, A major, D major, falling back into an uneasy F sharp minor. The Moderato finale sets out in A minor, which manages to withstand the efforts of a dropping figure to de-stabilise it and thus opens out into a passage marked calmo, in the relative major, C. But it doesn’t stay calmo for long, in mood or tonality, swinging through A flat major and E major before returning to A minor with the indication of Tempo primo. Warmer keys predominate for the rest of the movement – G major, E major, B major – until the music sinks into an E minor coda, which returns to A minor for its closing bars.

from notes by Martin Anderson © 2001

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67220 track 1
Allegro con espressione
Recording date
23 June 2000
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Walter & Goldmark: Violin Sonatas (CDA67220)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: October 2001
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