Viola Sonata in g minor, Op.106
Philipp Scharwenka's Viola Sonata in g minor dates from 1899 and is in three movements which were intended to be played without pause. The opening movement movement, Moderato, is also marked Fantasia and is in very free form and includes several virtuosic recitativs. The second movement is a charming Allegretto, while the finale is a riveting Allegro. The final two movements are welded together by the use of passages from the fantasia movement.
Philipp Scharwenka (1847-1917) was born near Posen, then part of Prussian Poland. He moved to Berlin in 1865 to complete his musical education. A good pianist, he primarily devoted himself to composition and teaching at several of Berlin’s leading conservatories, finally joining the faculty and serving as director of the conservatory founded by his younger brother, Xaver. Otto Klemperer was among his many students. During his lifetime, his orchestral compositions were featured regularly in German concert halls, but the common consensus is that his chamber music was his best work. Besides several instrumental sonatas, he wrote two string quartets and a Piano Quintet. All three of these are late works and written within a short time of each other, around 1910. The idiom is late German Romantic, which by that time was certainly a retrospective style. The appearance of these works in 1910, rather than say in 1890, no doubt played a role in their not receiving the attention they should have for they are very accomplished works.
This sonata is one of the very best from the late Romantic era. We have reprinted the original edition which is not as dark as we would have hoped but perfectly readable. Nonetheless, the price reflects this fact and considerably less than our already normal low prices.