Violin Sonata in e minor, Op.116
Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) was born near Hamburg in the town of Altona. As a musician, he was truly a renaissance man, excelling in virtually every area. For three decades, he was considered one of the finest pianists performing before the public. Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, were all very favorably impressed not only with his playing but also his compositions. He was appointed to the position of professor of piano and composition at the prestigious Leipzig Conservatory, where he became one of the most famous teachers in the world 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. He eventually rose to the position of Director of the Conservatory and also served as the conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra into one of the finest orchestras in the world. As a composer, he produced widely respected and often performed works in every genre running the gamut from opera, to orchestral to chamber music. In his time, Reinecke and his music were unquestionably regarded as first rate. His instrumental sonatas are among his finest works.
The Op.116 Violin Sonata dates from 1872 and was dedicated to Ferdinand David, the violinist Mendelssohn chose to be concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It is a substantial work in 3 movements. The work opens with an Allegro con fuoco. The music is propulsive and agitated, conveying and sense of urgency. The middle movement, Andante ma non troppo, is on the dark side although neither tragic nor brooding, the melodies are quite romantic while remain very serious. In the finale, Allegro con brio, piano's flowing accompaniment creates heightened aura of restlessness to which the violin is given a series of searching and striving themes.
For its time, this sonata stands out with those of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Schumann. It is a shame that it disappeared from the repertoire and then disappeared altogether, remaining out of print for the better part of a century. Hence, we are pleased to make it available once again and commend it to both professionals and amateurs.