Hebrew Melodies for Viola & Piano, Op.9
Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) was one of the foremost musical personalities of the 19th century. He studied at the Vienna and Leipzig Conservatories. Mendelssohn was so impressed with his playing that he took the 12 year old Joachim with him to London to perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto. For many years thereafter, Joachim was one of the leading soloists before the public. Later, he became a prominent teacher and served as director of the famous Berlin Hochschule fur Musik. He also led what was considered one of the best string quartets for several decades. Joachim knew a great many of the most important musicians, most of whom he was friends with. This included Brahms, the Schumanns and Liszt to name but a few.
The Hebrew Melodies were composed in 1854. They were subtitled "From Impressions of Byron's Poems". There are three movements. The work is mostly dark in color and beautifully exploits the viola's ability to express sadness and lamentation. The first two movements, Sostenuto and Grave, are in the minor and filled with melancholy and pathos. The third movement, Andante cantabile, is mostly pastoral in character although the middle section is quicker and more dramatic.
These are lovely pieces which should be in every violist's repertoire. They make an excellent recital work but can be played individually as stand alones or encores.