Sonata in A Major for Violin & Piano, Op.8
Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) was born in the town of Gatchina, near St. Petersburg. He studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakov at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After graduating, he obtained the position of Director of the Tiflis (Tbilisi) Music Academy. He spent the next seven years in the Georgian capital, also holding the post of conductor of the city's orchestra. It was during this time that he developed his life-long interest in the music of the Georgian region and many of his compositions reflect this, the most famous being his Caucasian Sketches. In 1893, he became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and later served as its director for two decades. He composed in all genres.
The Op.8 Violin Sonata is a relatively early work dating from 1887. In three movements, it is shows the influence of the latest trends from France as filtered through a Russian lens. The opening movement begins with a short Andante introduction before the jaunty melody, a kind of upbeat dance tune, Allegro con moto, takes over. The title to the charming second movement, Valse melancolique, aptly describes this lovely, somewhat moody waltz. The finale, Allegro risoluo con spirito, bursts forth dominated by its powerful rhythm. However, a slower section intervenes before things really get underway. A gorgeous, slower middle section, with is vaguely Russian melody, provides a wonderful contrast.
This fine sonata has been unavailable now for many years. It is a work of great charm and elegance and certainly would make an excellent choice for the recital hall.