Violin Sonata in e minor, Op.1
Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1867-1942) was born in the Swedish town of Ullänger. He studied piano and composition at the Stockholm and Dresden Conservatories after which he pursued a career as a composer and music critic. He was influenced by Grieg and Wagner and was quite interested in Swedish folk melody which can be heard in many of his works. Most of compositions are for large ensembles or choral music, although he did write several pieces for violin and piano
The Violin Sonata is in four movements and dates from 1887. Although Peterson-Berger was only 20 and still at the Stockholm Conservatory at the time he composed the work, it is an extraordinary mature piece. Perhaps this should not be a surprise since he had already been composing for nearly a decade. It was the Sonata which he honored with his first opus number, not because it was his first composition, but because it was the first work he felt worthy of an opus number. The opening movement begins with a short Lento introduction which states the main theme, a Swedish folk melody. The main section of the movement, Allegro molto moderato ed espresso, gives this theme as well as the side themes extensive lyrical and dramatic treatment. The next movement, Adagio, is a calm and lovely. Its very romantic thematic material is deeply felt. The third movement is a short and despite its marking, a brisk Scherzando, molto moderato with a beautiful and romantic contrasting trio section. The finale, Vivo con grazio, is a bright and exciting romp.
Here is a recital work par excellence. With fine writing for both the violin and the piano, this is a work which is sure to make an indeliable impression. It belongs in the repertoire.