This will be an evening in the company of two remarkable musicians. Long-standing friend of Luton Music, the violinist Sara Trickey and legendary international pianist Stephen Kovacevich join forces in two great sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms. Stephen will also play some solo repertoire in the remainder of the recital.
The Brahms sonata is perhaps of special interest regarding our season’s theme of The Relationship between Literature, Art & Music. With the nickname of Regensonate (Rain Sonata) its melodic material is derived from two songs by the composer – Regenlied and Nachklang (his Op 59 settings of two ‘rain’ poems by Klaus Groth). The sense of yearning that informs these lines is clearly reflected in Brahms’s treatment of the texts, entirely appropriate when we consider the composer’s biographical circumstances as he worked on the piece in the relaxed atmosphere of the Carinthian lake resort of Portschach over the two idyllic summers of 1878 and 1879. Brahms was godfather to Felix Schumann, the youngest child of Robert and Clara (named in fact in memory of their dear friend Mendelssohn); and indeed had made a setting of his 19 year old godson’s poem about a nightingale (Meine Liebe ist grun wie der Fliederbusch) as a Christmas gift for Clara one year. It had become Brahms’s annual habit to retreat to the countryside every summer to concentrate on his writing and this liberation from the daily round of city life was inspirational for him. He would rise early every morning and walk for hours through the woods, communing with nature and then returning home to compose with a fluency that he seldom found in the rest of the year. It was under such a regimen that in Portschach during the summer of 1878 Brahms began to work on what was to become this first violin sonata. He had already destroyed at least three earlier efforts to write such a piece, so the free-flowing ease of this composition bears witness to the comfort that he found in his glorious summer retreat. Sadly before Brahms was able to return the following year to finish the work his beloved godson Felix had died of tuberculosis at the age of only 25. This tragedy touched Brahms deeply and yet this sonata (perhaps originally to have been a simple sonatina for Felix himself to play) seems to me to resist any obvious sense of melancholy, celebrating perhaps the simple beauty in that young life, even in the jagged funeral march of the slow movement which leans instead towards the heroic. Felix’s mother, Clara, loved the work, declaring that she wished the final movement could accompany her into the next world. This piece , with its origins in those emotive lines of the Romantic poetry of Klaus Groth, further modulated by a celebration of the young life of Felix Schumann and then kissed by the summer sunshine of those contented morning walks in Portschach, is a wonderfully layered work with Brahms clearly at the summit of his compositional power.
- Richard Sisson (Chair of Luton Music)
Programme to include:
Ludwig van Beethoven – Violin Sonata No.5 in F Spring Op 24
Johannes Brahms – Violin Sonata No.1 in G Op 78
Sara Trickey – violin
Stephen Kovacevich – piano
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