Violin Sonata in a minor, Op.19
Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) was born in Stockholm and studied locally. He took piano lessons from by Richard Andersson, a student of Clara Schumann, and composition from Emil Sjogren, eventually becoming a virtuoso who was considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time. But Stenhammar was more interested in chamber music and aligned himself with the Aulin String Quartet with whom he regularly performed piano quintets in concert. This relationship gave him a deeper appreciation and understanding of string instruments and was no doubt responsible for the very fine works he was able to write for them.
Stenhammar wrote his violin sonata for his good friend Tor Aulin, Sweden's leading concert violinist at the time and also leader of the Aulin String Quartet. It is an intimate work, highly romantic, eschewing virtuosic display for loveliness of melody. The opening movement, Allegro con anima, has the air of a saga about it. The middle movement, Andantino, has the quality of a simple, but highly romantic, folk song. The third and final movement, Allegro, although it is lively and upbeat, is never far from its folkloric roots.
This charming work has been unavailable for more than 50 years. It makes just the right touch for an intimate recital.