Violin Sonata in g minor, Op.20
Foote's Violin Sonata was completed in 1889 and dedicated to Franz Kneisel, the concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, by whom it was premiered. It achieved considerably popularity in the States but then slowly disappeared from recital programs and was forgotten. The opening movement, Allegro appassionato, is full of sweeping emotion, lyrical declaration and also intimacy. The second movement, Alla Siciliano, is a kind of intermezzo and begins with a gentle andante, while the middle section, Allegretto grazioso provides a sprightly contrast and has tinges of Hungarian gypsy music. The Adagio which follows is of a reflective mood but not without moments of intensity. The finale, Allegro molto, has for its main theme a bold melody which is not without lyricism. Along the way, we hear traditional New England church tunes.
Arthur Foote (1853-1937) certainly was the equal of nearly any of his European contemporaries, but the fact that he was an American, at a time when American composers were not generally taken seriously, was without doubt an insurmountable obstacle to his achieving the reputation he deserved. Foote was born in Salem, Massachusetts and was the first important American composer trained entirely in America. His main teacher was John Knowles Paine, from whom Foote gained an admiration for and was primarily influenced by the leading Central European Romantic composers of the day, such as Mendelssohn, Schumann, Dvorak and Brahms.
It is truly unjust that this work has been neglected and all but forgotten for it is a work of the first order and as fine a sonata as was being written at the time. The writing is the work of an assured master, the textures are always lucid and never cluttered. Nothing is done to excess, everything is perfect. We are extremely pleased to make it available again and hope that both amateurs and professionals will add it to their repertoires.