Suite in d minor for 3 Violins, Op.17
Friedrich Hermann's Suite for Three Violins dates from 1881. It is in five movements, each of a different character. The opening movement, Grave, is marked Energico ed appassionato, ma in tempo moderato. It opens with a passionate ff outburst. The dramatic tension is only occasionally relieved by a few brief lyrical episodes and the movement ends as it began. Next comes a Scherzo. It begins with a pizzicato accompaniment as the fleet-footed, bowed main subject races along lightly above. There is a brief emotional trio section which provides fine contrast. The third movement, Canzonetta, marked Allegretto tranquillo is a pastorale. A jovial, rollicking Giocoso is placed fourth. The finale, Marcia funebre—Presto begins with the strings muted and playing a dour, funereal march. The main section, Presto, is wild and exciting. Toward the end, the funeral march briefly returns before the coda in which the Presto has the final word.
Friedrich Hermann (1828-1907) was born in the German city of Frankfurt am Main. He was a student at the Leipzig Conservatory, studying composition with Mendelssohn and Niels Gade and violin with Ferdinand David. After graduating he obtained the position of principal violist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and at the age of 19 started teaching at the Conservatory where he later became a professor. Besides his work with the Conservatory and the Orchestra, Hermann was a member of the Gewandhaus Quartet. In 1878, in order to devote himself to teaching, composing, and editing, he resigned all appointments except the Conservatory. His work as editor is well known and includes compositions by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven as well as those by the famous violinists such as Kreutzer, Beriot and Rode. In addition to his work as an editor, he composed a symphony, a quartet for wind instruments, and several other chamber music works, which clearly shows his affinity with the new emerging romantic virtuoso style that was part and parcel of 19th century string playing. Among his chamber works are several trios for three violins, a genre which is relatively small. His wonderful handling of the three voices in these works is clearly demonstrated by his ability to interweave three similar timbres.
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