SAMUIL FEINBERG (1890-1962): Violin Sonata, Op. 12, Fantasia No. 1 for Piano, Op. 5, Suite No. 1 for Piano, Op. 11 “4 pièces en forme d’études”, HANS WINTERBERG (1901-1991): Piano Sonata No. 1, Suite 1945 (Theresienstadt) for Piano.

Catalogue Number: 06U012

Label: Melism

Reference: MLS CD 011

Format: CD

Price: $17.98

Description: It is not overstating the case to hail this as a major and significant rediscovery of lost masterpieces. The Feinberg sonata is a real find. It hails from the 1910s, the period (up to the early 1930s) of the composer’s turbulent, intense and tragic style which encompasses the first six piano sonatas and is epitomised by the powerful 1st Piano Concerto (03J002). After a hiatus, his return to composing ushered in a style that was more utopian, instantly appealing and arguably less open to official censure, still the voice of a master but lacking the searing élan of the earlier scores. The sonata had long been thought incomplete, but in the 1990s, Sirodeau determined that through misplacements of manuscripts and accidents of cataloguing it had not been appreciated that the work existed complete, once due diligence had been exercised in piecing it back together. The first movement begins with an air of genial wistfulness, soon supplanted by a boisterously playful mood, with quicksilver changes of character. The scherzo fitfully flickers and flares with a kind of jaunty diablérie. The exquisite Largo, full of melancholy and longing, song and passion, is the heart of the work. It lingers over its lovely, weeping theme, then hesitantly approaches the finale. This begins with energy and high spirits, but the slow movement theme unexpectedly introduces a lyrical episode and when the energetic material returns it is gripped by this theme all the way to the end, via a violent struggle to wrench the music back to its home key, leading to a thunderous conclusion. This is the first recording of the original version of the dark, brooding Fantasia (1917) - the only previous one being the composer’s, of the less satisfactory revised edition - redolent throughout of the decaying, opulently perfumed plumes of late Romanticism. Its themes recall Mahler and Wagner; its harmony is sumptuous, its counterpoint strict, its eruptive climax shocking in its vehemence. The uneasy, shadowy, phantom-infested Suite (1922), receiving its first complete recording since the composer’s, is a significant bonus. The case of Hans Winterberg is exceedingly complex and only now being unravelled, and the breadth and quality of his œuvre appreciated. A Czech-German Jew, his personal and artistic fate in the years surrounding World War II were dangerous and complicated, as were the family and legal entanglements after the war, which culminated in a disgraceful contract with the custodians of his archive that effectively embargoed his music entirely, until 2031! It is only very recently, thanks to the efforts of Michael Haas (forbiddenmusic.org), Peter Kreitmeir (the composer’s grandson) and so far, a very few performers, primarily Sirodeau, that we are able to hear Winterberg's tough, ruggedly individualistic music. The Sonata is a powerful work of intense emotions and kaleidoscopic mood-swings. Tonally ambiguous, or bi- or poly-tonal, and polyrhythmic, the work moves disconcertingly between suspended stasis, ferocious climaxes, grotesquerie and evanescent, limpid beauty. The Suite, composed in Theresienstadt, consists of two restless polyrhythmic ostinato-driven movements bracketing a quasi-orchestral funeral cortège, its sense of scale and tragic depth belying its brevity. Nina Pissareva Zymbalist (violin), Christophe Sirodeau (piano).

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