Monday, October 28, 2013

Sviatoslav Richter in Prague (Weber & Schubert)

In February 1812 Weber went to Dresden to give several concerts as a pianist. The reception was, to say the least, cool, the critics of the period deeming that "his style of playig is essentially an imitation of Spohr, and his music reveals an odd and false concept of harmony". The composer's father, Baron Franz Anton von Weber, a violonist who had become the director of a theatre company that toured the princely courts and German towns, attributed this rejection to the fact "that the high society of Dresden takes not the slightest interest in artists unless they are Italian".
In 1816 Carl Maria von Weber returned to the Saxon capital as Kapellmeister of the State Opera, a post he occupied until his untimely death. From then on his career as a concert pianist declined, giving way to that of a conductor and composer of operas. One of the most attractive features of Weber's music, whether it be his operas, his concertos, his chamber music, or his piano works, is that it always exhales a freshness, a spontaneity, and a charm that, far from being facile, are inherent stylistic qualities comparable to Mendelssohn's. His output of compositions for the piano is considerable, comprising a multitude of variations, rondos, polonaises, waltzes, odd pieces like the celebrated Invitation to the Dance, and four sonatas. From an instrumental point of view, they reflect the technical influence of Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837) and Jan Ladislav Dusík (or Johann Ladislaus Dussek in German). Weber was a brilliant and virtuosic pianist whose very large hands enabled him to play successions of chords in tenths and extremely impressive virtuosic melodic runs, remembered by Chopin. He wrote the Sonata in A-flat Major, Op. 39 in Prague between 1814 and 1816. The Sonata in D minor, Op. 49, sketched in Berlin, was completed in Dresden in the autumn of 1816. Contemporary critics were not gentle in their assessment of this Sonata, "revealing a strong influence of the present fashion for the music of Rossini. The work sounds like a curious hodgepodge between a high-flow Italian aria and an erudite Germanic idiom in which Weber never misses a chance of combining the two, and even of treating them in the form of a theme and variations". Stravinsky was one of the few to come to the defence of the author of Der Freischütz in his Poetics of Music : "His sonatas have so strict and instrumental character that the few rubati... do not succeed in concealing the clear-sighted and continuous control which keeps it in check"...
Pierre-E. Barbier (translated by Derek Yeld), from the booklet

Sviatoslav Richter
Weber & Schubert


Carl Maria von Weber

Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 49 n° 3
1 I. Allegro feroce  11:01
2 II. Andante con moto  7:33
3 III. Rondo. Presto  5:28
Franz Schubert

Piano Sonata in D Major, Op. 53 D 850 "Gastein Sonate"
4 I. Allegro  7:44
5 II. Con moto  15:34
6 III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace  8:32
7 IV. Rondo. Allegro moderato  7:42


Sviatoslav Richter - p

Recorded in Prague ; May 23, 1954 [# 1-3] ; & June 14, 1956 [# 4-7]


Michel said...


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Melanchthon said...