Viola Sonata in f minor, Op.49
Rubinstein's Viola Sonata in f minor was composed in 1855 and published two years thereafter. He revisited and revised the work in 1883 and published a second edition which we have reprinted here. Long out of print, it is a work to welcomed by violists whose repertoire cannot be described as abundant. In four movements, the work begins with a broad Moderato, written on a big scale it gives the violist ample opportunity to sing in the instrument’s unique register. The second movement, Andante, begins with a recitative for the viola which leads to the charming main section. Next comes an interesting Moderato con moto, which is a cross between a scherzo and an intermezzo with the viola give long, fluid moving lines. The finale, Allegro, takes full advantage of the viola’s singing ability.
Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was one of the great piano virtuosi of the 19th century with a technique said to rival that of Liszt. He also gained renown as a composer and conductor. Rubinstein was one of those rare concert virtuosi whose contribution to music went far beyond performing. In 1862, he founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory and served as its first director. His efforts in developing Russian musical talent were perhaps the greatest of any single individual. Not only did he introduce European educational methods but he also established standards that were as rigorous as any conservatory in Europe.