Suite for Violin and Piano in g minor, Op.99
Philipp Scharwenka’s Suite for Violin and Piano in g minor, Op.99 dates from 1896. A big work in four movements, the Suite opens in a serious vein with a very dramatic Toccata harking back to the days of Bach and the Baroque. The music conveys a pressing sense of urgency. The second movement, Ballade, is a soft, song-like, lilting Andante. Next comes an interesting Intermezzo which sports a fugue that reminds one of a Mendelssohnian scherzo. The finale, begins with a slow Recitativ, a Largo section which then leads to a thrilling, virtuosic Tarantella.
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 Suite is one of the best, if not the best, late romantic suite for violin and piano. Out of print for many years now, we hope that hearing this great work will convince violinists looking for something special to acquaint themselves with amazing piece.