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  • Date: 24/01/2023 01:05 PM
  • Location Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Map)
  • More Info: Bradshaw Hall


Yi Wang violin

Robert Markham piano

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1, in A minor, Op.105

i.  Mit leidenschafttlichem Ausdruck

ii. Allegretto

iii. Lebhaft

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

3 Romances, Op.22

i.   Andante molto

ii.  Allegretto: Mit zartem Vortrage

iii. Leidenschaftlich schnell

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in G Major, Op.78 ("Regen")

i.   Vivace, ma non troppo

ii.  Adagio

iii. Allegro molto moderato

Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Both of Schumann's Sonatas for Violin and Piano (the present item and the Sonata, Op.121 in D minor) were composed during his tenure as a conductor in Düsseldorf in 1851, substantially later than his chamber works -- Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet, and the three string quartets -- which have achieved a more general renown. As such, they present a different set of challenges and rewards than do those earlier works. Signs of Schumann's impending collapse are certainly evident in the A minor Violin Sonata, but not through any deficiency of musical value; the work's dramatic and psychological complexities speak for themselves.

The undulation of the Sonata's first movement is established by the unbroken sixteenth note figuration in the piano's right hand. The music is played out with great surges of emotion and activity; the ponderous tone of the opening bars is carried away to heights of more hopeful passion as the second theme appears. The development is concise, concerning itself almost exclusively with the opening motive. The move into the recapitulation, seamless as it is, is a master stroke, as is the manner in which Schumann adapts the harmonic motion of the opening to achieve a sense of finality.

Clara Josephine Schumann (13 September 1819 – 20 May 1896) was a German pianist, composer, and piano teacher. Regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, she exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital from displays of virtuosity to programs of serious works. She also composed solo piano pieces, a piano concerto (her Op. 7), chamber music, choral pieces, and songs.

Having moved to Düsseldorf in 1853, Clara Schumann, who said that "Women are not born to compose," produced several works, including these three romances. Dedicated to the legendary violinist Joseph Joachim, Schumann and Joachim went on tour with them, even playing them before King George V of Hanover, who was "completely ecstatic" upon hearing them. A critic for the Neue Berliner Musikzeitung praised them, declaring: "All three pieces display an individual character conceived in a truly sincere manner and written in a delicate and fragrant hand." Stephen Pettitt for The Times, wrote, "Lush and poignant, they make one regret that Clara's career as a composer became subordinate to her husband's."

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer, pianist, and conductor of the mid-Romantic period. Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, he spent much of his professional life in Vienna. He is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs" of music, a comment originally made by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow. As a virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works. He worked with leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim (the three were close friends). Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire.

Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 78 Brahms loved the countryside and being surrounded by nature which acted as a stimulus for him and where he could "go for walks with his musical ideas”, as he called it. Therefore it is not surprising that in the summer months, the majority of his loveliest Lieder and instrumental compositions were written. As early as 1877, when he was in Portschach for the first time, he had written to his friend the Viennese music critic Eduard Hanslick: "Lake Worth is a virgin country, the air is so full of melodies that one must be careful not to step on one…". The same applies to the summers following, in which not only Brahms's Violin Concerto in D major was written, but also the Violin Sonata in G major Op. 78 which was finished in the summer of 1879. It appears that Brahms had started the Sonata in G major as a sonatina for his godson Felix Schumann who was studying the violin. When Felix died, Brahms expanded the work and finished it as a memorial to the Schumanns’ son. In a letter to Clara dated during Felix’s fatal illness, Brahms included an early sketch of the second movement’s E flat melody saying that it expressed his feelings for Clara and Felix better than words. The central episode is a funeral march in B minor and makes prominent use of the first movement’s dotted rhythm which is in turn taken from the Finale in which Brahms uses one of his own songs, the “Regenlied” (Rain Song) with the running piano figuration alluding to raindrops, giving the movement a strong sense of melancholy, reflection and nostalgia. When Brahms sent Clara Schumann a manuscript copy of this new work, she wrote back: “I must send you a line to tell you how excited I am about your Sonata. It came today. Of course I played it through at once, and at the end could not help bursting into tears of joy”. Ten years later, when Clara was 70 years old and in failing health, she still loved the sonata; evident in a touching letter to Brahms in which she wrote: “Joachim was here on Robert’s 80th birthday and we had a lot of music. We played the [Op. 78] sonata again and I revelled in it. I wish that the last movement could accompany me in my journey from here to the next world.”