Violin Sonata No.2 in e minor, Op.36a
Busoni's Second Violin Sonata dates from 1900 and is dedicated to the memory of the Czech violinist and composer Ottokar Novacek who died in that year.
Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) is remembered as a great pianist and was among the first rank of virtuosi during his lifetime, but what generally is no longer remembered is that he was an important composer. Cecil Gray, writing in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music notes:
“The popular notion that his creative efforts were simply the outcome of a virtuoso’s ultimate ambition, when no further laurels remained to be conquered in his own sphere, is wholly erroneous. There can be little doubt that if he had been a less brilliant player, his music would have received greater attention. This is the great tragedy of Busoni’s career...Busoni’s significance as a composer has often been grievously under-estimated. In natural talents he was richly endowed, and in technical command and versatility of achievement possessed phenomenal powers.”
The first movement, Langsam (slow), begins quietly in the mood of wistful sadness while the second theme is rhapsodic and more intense. The middle movement, Presto, is a breathless tarantella. The third and final movement is a theme followed by several variations. The theme is taken from a Bach chorale--Wie wohl ist mir and presented in a very moving fashion. The variations which follow are masterly and range widely in mood and tempo.
Certainly this work deserves to be heard in recital but it should also be of interest to amateur players.