Two Pieces for Viola and Piano, Op.31
The Two Pieces for Viola and Piano, Op.31 were composed toward the end of Winkler's life in 1933. However, from a tonal standpoint, they could have been composed in 1895. The first piece Meditation Elégiaque is slow and reflective but not without several powerful dramatic climaxes. The second piece, La Toupie-Scène d' enfant (The Spinning Top--A Scene from Childhood) consists of two sections. The first whirling and fast, evocative of the top spinning, and a second slower and more lyrical.
Alexander Winkler (1865-1935) was born in the then Russian city of Kharkov (today Kharkiv in the Ukraine) He studied piano and composition locally and then in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He continued his studies in Paris and Vienna before returning to Kharkov where he taught piano for a number of years before being appointed to a professorship at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Sergei Prokoviev was among his many students. In 1924, he emigrated to France and served as director of the Conservatory in Besancon.
Together, the Two Pieces make a fine shorter selection for a recital but either one would make an excellent encore.