Hyperion Records

Sonata for solo violin in G, Op 44
1951; commissioned by Yehudi Menuhim who first performed it in February 1952 at Carnegie Hall

'Bloch & Ben-Haïm: Violin Music' (CDA67571)
Bloch & Ben-Haïm: Violin Music
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67571  Archive Service  
Movement 1: Allegro energico
Track 15 on CDA67571 [5'43] Archive Service
Movement 2: Lento e sotto voce
Track 16 on CDA67571 [5'00] Archive Service
Movement 3: Molto allegro
Track 17 on CDA67571 [3'46] Archive Service

Sonata for solo violin in G, Op 44
As with composers such as Bartók and Vaughan Williams involved in the folk-music revival, folk influences are to be found throughout the very fabric of Ben-Haïm’s original œuvre, including two symphonies, the award-winning oratorio The Sweet Psalmist of Israel, and a large output of chamber and vocal music. One of his most compelling string works, which combines the Eastern Mediterranean style with a neoclassical approach, is the Sonata in G for solo violin Op 44. It was composed in three days in 1951 to a commission from Yehudi Menuhin, who gave the premiere at Carnegie Hall in February 1952. It was also for Menuhin that Ben-Haïm composed one of his last works, the Three Studies for solo violin of 1981. The Sonata Op 44 was inspired by Bartók’s solo Sonata, which Menuhin performed in 1951 in Tel-Aviv, and shares with that work the influence of Bach’s solo Sonatas and Partitas.

The neo-Baroque elements are most marked in the sonata-design first movement, Allegro energico, based on a memorable strident rhythmic motif, which recurs at important junctures in different keys rather like a Baroque ‘ritornello’ form, leading to a climactic final statement that resembles a sonata recapitulation. It is interspersed by fluid passagework and Bachian contrapuntal textures, yet infused with a modal flavour that seems to blend Middle Eastern colours with the impressionism of Bloch, Debussy and Ravel. Folkloristic elements are more pronounced in the last two movements, the more expressive of which is the slow movement that inhabits the pastoral mood suggested in biblical psalms, shepherd pipes and Bedouin chants. There is an exotic magic to the long winding melody that weaves melismas around the main notes of a simple mode. The finale is fizzing Hora, a dance that, speeded up from its slow Eastern European roots, became an Israeli national dance. Here it is treated as a moto perpetuo in rondo form, adorned with exuberant violinistic pyrotechnics that concludes the Sonata with virtuoso panache.

from notes by Malcolm Miller © 2007

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

   English   Français   Deutsch