Violin Sonata No.3 in g minor, Op.70
As one critic discussing Wilhelm Berger's Violin Sonata No.3 in g minor wrote, "Seldom equaled, never bettered", and this is certainly true. We can confidently say this is a late Romantic era masterwork which belongs in every performing violinist's recital repertoire. A big work, the powerful opening movement, Lebhaft und mit Leidenschaft (lively and with passion) it opens dramatically and moves forward with tremendous verve. A lovely, singing slow movement, Sehr langsam (very slow) comes next. The third movement, Sehr lebhaft und mit Humor (lively with humor) is a captivating set of superbly executed variations. The weighty finale, Lebhaft, is rich and darkly tinged like a fine burgundy wine.
Wilhelm Berger (1861-1911) was born in Boston but returned to Germany with his family within a year of his birth. He grew up in Bremen where he received his first lessons in voice and piano. A scholarship allowed him to study with the famous composition teacher Friedrich Kiel in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik. After graduating, he held a number of teaching positions, including that of Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy. He also served as director of the famous Meiningen Court Orchestra. Berger, though his compositions had won many prizes and were often performed, did not quickly achieve the fame he deserved. Highly respected by the cognoscenti, he never self-promoted or advertised himself with the wider musical public as did several others. Fame finally did start to come, but just at the moment of his death, at which time he was starting to be regarded, along with Max Reger, as Germany's most important successor to Brahms. Unfortunately, the First World War and its aftermath, led to a total lack of interest for many decades of nearly all romantic composers, and the reputation of those who were less well-known such as Berger, never really recovered.
The Sonata, which dates from 1898, has been out of print now for many decades. By making it available again, we hope both professionals and amateurs will consider adding it to their collections.