Ballade for Clarinet or Viola and Piano, Op.8
During the first fifteen years of the 20th century, Leó Weiner (1885-1960) was widely regarded as a "wunderkind", winning virtually all of the important Hungarian and Austrian competitions between 1903 and 1908. Weiner was born in Budapest and entered the Budapest Academy of Music at the age of 16, where studied composition with Hans Koessler. His rise was meteoric and he Critics dubbed him the "Hungarian Mendelssohn." Weiner was essentially a Romantic composer and his compositions, though certainly featuring modern touches, never ventured into either polytonalism or atonalism. As these trends pioneered by Stravinsky, Bartok and Schonberg began to come into vogue, Weiner's reputation and that of his music slowly receded, as did the music of other contemporary composers who remained faithful to traditional tonality.
The Ballade dates from 1911. It is in one lengthy movement with three subsections and includes a short cadenza. An engaging work, one can hear tinges of both Hungarian folk melody and French impressionism. Weiner produced both a clarinet and viola part at the same time he wrote the work.
This is an important addition to repertoire of both the clarinet and the viola, coming as it does in the very late post-Brahmsian late Romantic era which we recommend to both professionals and amateurs.