Violin Sonata No.4 in G Major, Op.85
Friedrich Gernsheim (1839-1916) is a composer whose music was held in the highest regard by his colleagues and critics during his lifetime. Brahms and Max Bruch were among the many who were admirers. Gernsheim, somewhat of a piano and violin virtuoso as a child, was eventually educated at the famous Leipzig Conservatory where he studied piano with Ignaz Moscheles and violin with Ferdinand David. After graduating, he continued his studies in Paris, getting to know Saint SaŽns, Lalo, Liszt and Rossini. Despite his admiration for France and the French, he returned to Germany and during the course of his life, he held academic and conducting positions in Cologne, Rotterdam and finally Berlin. Gernsheim wrote in most genres and chamber music occupied him thoughout his life. He has five string quartets, four piano trios, three piano quartets and two piano quintets to his credit as well as numerous instrumental sonatas.
Gernsheims Fourth and final Violin Sonata dates from 1912. It was dedicated to Henri Marteau, a colleague of his at the Berlin Conservatory and one of the finest soloists of the day. Critics hailed the Sonata as a masterpiece and as good as any sonata of its time. The writing for both instruments is impeccable, in no small part due to the fact that he was both a first rate pianist and violinist. Sonata No.4 makes no compromises as to its technical difficult as Gernsheim could be sure it would be performed by the finest players of the day. The opening movement, Allegro moderato assai, opens in a genial vein. The main theme is relaxed and expanive but quickly shows its dramatic side as it quickly reaches a series of climaxes before further development. The middle movement, Andantino dolente--In moto giocoso--Andante dolente, is as the marking suggests in three distinct parts. The Andante dolente is not particularly sad but rather reflective and pensive. The lively middle section, which is bright and lively, provides a fine contrast and serves as a kind of scherzo. The finale, Allegro con brio, begins with toe-tapping, quick and playful melody, which in turn is followed by a more lyrical section.
As contemporary critics noted, this is a of the first rank, certainly deserving to be in the concert repertoire. Out of print for the better part of a century we are pleased to make available once again.