Mendelssohn’s viola sonata is one of his many early works which remained unpublished in his lifetime. The autograph is dated "d. 14 Febr. 1824". Thus Mendelssohn was 15 years old when he completed the sonata. It assuredly numbers amongst his most mature early chamber music works. The key already indicates the seriousness with which the composer set to work. The first movement is preceded by a short adagio introduction. The middle movement, a menuetto, retains the key of c minor and not even the trio with its chorale-like melody lightens the minor mood. The closing movement is an andante with eight variations. It is a welcome addition to the scant classical-romantic viola repertoire.
- Viola Sonata c minor
- ABRSM: Viola Grade 8 (recommended)
At an early age Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–47) already astounded those around him with his extraordinary musical talent. In 1818 he gave his first public performance on the piano, and his first extant compositions date from the year 1820, including two chamber music works with piano. This genre remained a focus of interest for the young composer in the years that … more
About the composer
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
A German composer, conductor, pianist, and organist who already numbered among the most important composers in Europe during his lifetime. While still young he found a unique tonal language. Reflected in his oeuvre, which spans all genres, are the contradictory tendencies of the age – Classicism and Romanticism. His endeavors over the course his life to perform the works of Johann Sebastian Bach led to a “rediscovery” of that composer which continues unabated. His intensive engagement with Bach and his counterpoint influenced his own compositional technique.
|1809||Born into a wealthy banker’s family in Hamburg on February 3. Escape to Berlin with his parents in 1811. First musical instruction from his mother.|
|1819||He becomes a pupil of Carl Friedrich Zelter.|
|1820||Joins the Sing-Akademie in Berlin.|
|1821–23||Twelve sinfonias for strings.|
|1825||String Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20.|
|1826||Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Op. 21|
|1827||Begins studies at the University of Berlin.|
|1829||Revival of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin on March 11 and 21. Travels to England and Scotland.|
|1829–30||“Reformation” Symphony in D minor, [Op. 107], with inclusion of the choral “Ein feste Burg“ (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.)|
|1830–32||Extended travels, including to Italy and France. Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 25; Overture in B minor, Op. 26, “The Hebrides, or Fingal’s Cave” (1829–30).|
|1833||Music director in Düsseldorf. “Italian” Symphony in A major, Op. 90 (1830–33).|
|1835||Director of the Gewandhaus concerts in Leipzig.|
|1836||Premiere in Düsseldorf of his oratorio “St. Paul: Oratorio on Words of the Holy Bible,” Op. 36.|
|1838-44||Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64.|
|1840||Composition of “Hymn of Praise, a Symphony-Cantata on Words of the Holy Bible,” Op. 52.|
|1841||Berlin, in the service of the Prussian king. “Variations sérieuses” in D minor, Op. 54, for piano.|
|1842||Completion of Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”) in A minor, Op. 56, with a songlike opening.|
|1843||Incidental music to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Op. 61. Director of the newly founded Leipzig Conservatory.|
|1846||Premiere of his oratorio “Elijah,” Op. 70, in Birmingham.|
|1847||String Quartet in F minor, [Op. 80]. Death in Leipzig on November 4.|
About the authors
It is by no means Mendelssohn at his best, but a fabulous introduction to sonata playing in the early romantic style.
Opening a G. Henle Verlag text always elicits a pleasurable response - there's the telltale deep-blue cover with warm, brown text. The undeniably rich smell of wellprinted pages. The thick ruffle of exceptional paper quality. And just on par with the historically high-class print quality, the Mendelssohn Sonata in C minor for viola and piano found between these particular pages is exactly what you'd expect it to be: superb in every sense.
Die Henle-Ausgabe erfreut durch eine wie immer sorgfältige Gestaltung, angenehm zu lesenden und zu blätternden Papier und wie immer mit einer lesenswerten Kombination von musikhistorisch einordnendem Vorwort und erhellendem Kritischem Bericht. Für die Fingersätze waren Klaus Schilde und die Ausnahme-Bratscherin Tabea Zimmermann verantwortlich - wer lieber seine eigenen Striche und Fingerstätze eintragen will, für den enthält die Ausgabe zusätzlich eine unbezeichnete Bratschenstimme. Was will man mehr?
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