Three Fantasy Pieces for Viola & Piano, Op.43
The Three Fantasy Pieces is an early work dating from 1848, at a time when Reinecke was at the very beginning of his career. Both Mendelssohn and Schumann were extremely impressed by the young musician—–Schumann so much so that he entrusted Reinecke with all of the arrangements of his works. He was fond of saying that “Reinecke knows what I will compose before I have put pen to paper.” It was Schumann who is credited with having created the genre of Fantasy pieces and Reinecke's are clearly in the tradition of his mentors. The first piece, Andante, is a Mendelssohnian Song Without Words. The piano accompaniment suggests a harp playing arpeggios which provides the harmonic support for the song-like viola melody. The second piece, Allegro molto, is a Schmannesque scherzo. The final movement, Molto vivace, is entitled “Jahrmarkt Scene” which refers to the annual fair held in mediaeval times and which survives to this day in various forms, such as the annual state fair held in many U.S. states. Just like these fairs, Reinecke creates a tonal spectacle of many different scenes.
Nowadays, Reinecke has been all but forgotten, an unjust fate for a man who excelled in virtually every musical field with which he was involved. As a performer, Reinecke was, during the mid-19th century, reckoned for three decades as one of the finest concert pianists before the public. As a composer, he produced widely respected and often performed works in every genre running the gamut from opera, to orchestral to chamber music. As a conductor, he helped turn the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra into a group with few if any peers. As its director, he helped the Leipzig Conservatory become what was widely regarded as the finest in the world. As a teacher of composition and of piano, he was considered to have few if any equals. Among his many students were Grieg, Bruch, Janacek, Albeniz, Sinding, Svendsen, Reznicek, Delius, Arthur Sullivan, George Chadwick, Ethel Smyth, Felix Weingartner, Karl Muck and Hugo Riemann. In his time, Reinecke and his music were unquestionably regarded as first rate.
Reinecke was born near Hamburg in the town of Altona, then in the possession of Denmark. Most of his musical training was obtained from his father, who was a widely respected teacher and author. Starting in 1845 at the age 21, he began concertizing across Europe, in the course of which he was appointed court pianist to the King of Denmark. Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt all were favorably impressed by him and helped him gain an appointment at the Cologne Conservatory. By 1860, Reinecke’s reputation was such that he obtained a teaching position at the prestigious Leipzig Conservatory, which had been founded by Mendelssohn, and eventually rose to become its director. His reputation and excellence as a teacher can be attested to by the aforementioned list of famous students.
These works, like Schumann's make excellent recital works which will be enjoyed by professionals and amateurs alike.