Violin Sonata No.2 in a minor, Op.10
Born in Venice, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) was the son of a German father and an Italian mother. Throughout his life, he felt torn between the two cultures, uniting in himself the deep-felt German seriousness of purpose with sunny, Italian bel canto melody. His father was a painter and initially Ermanno wanted to follow in his footsteps. However after studying painting in Rome and Munich, he enrolled in the Royal Conservatory there and studied composition with Joseph Rheinberger. He spent his the rest of his life between Munich and Venice, never entirely satisfied in either place. This tension was, however, an important source of creativity for him. Wolf-Ferrari enjoyed his greatest success while still rather young, winning international fame for several of his operas between 1900 and the First World War. He served as Choral Director in Milan and later became the director of the Marcello Music Academy in Venice and taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. The First World War created an emotional crisis in that his "two fatherlands" were fighting on opposite sides. He chose to live in neutral Switzerland for the duration.
Though mainly known for his operas, he was quite fond of chamber music and wrote a fair amount including two piano trios, a string quartet, a string quintet and several instrumental sonatas. His Second Violin Sonata was composed in 1901. The respected music critic Wilhelm Altmann has this to say of it.
"Wolf-Ferrari's Second Violin Sonata although entitled sonata is more in the nature of a phantasy or improvisation. Although in two movements of considerable length, the composer does not really follow sonata form. Rather, it is a loosely constructed work, showing real talent and rising to considerable heights, especially in the second movement."
Out of print for many years, this is a very original and unusual work which deserves its chance in the recital hall.