Violin Sonata in G Major, Op. 52
Eduard Nápravník (1839-1916) was born in Bohemian town of Beischt (now Býšť), in what was then the Habsburg Empire. He learned to play the organ at his local church and then entered the Prague Organ School after which he obtained an appointment to serve as conductor of the famous private orchestra of Prince Yusupov in St. Petersburg. Thereafter he served as conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre and later several Imperial Theaters. He became an influential figure in Russian musical life and was even mentioned in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov as a famous conductor. He premiered several of Tchaikovsky’s works and assisted the composer in tightening up certain scores. He wrote in most genres but today is remembered for his most successful opera, Dubrovsky. He did not neglect chamber music writing three string quartets, a string quintet, a piano quartet and several instrumental works.
His Violin Sonata in G Major was composed in 1890. It is a massive work in four movements and was highly acclaimed on its premiere. The huge first movement begins with a spacious and somewhat calm Andante sostenuto introduction which leads seamlessly to the main section, a passionate Allegro with its attractive yearning main theme. Next comes a whirling Scherzo which give neither listener nor player a chance to catch their breaths until the more relaxed and charming middle section. The lovely third movement, Andante doloroso, is sad but not quite funereal. The finale is muscular, thrusting affair full of power and energy.
This extraordinarly work has been out of print many years. It cannot but make an indelible impression in the recital hall and warmly recommend it to violinists looking for a big work which is fresh and attractive.