The vast output of the German-Dutch composer Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) has begun to emerge from obscurity, with a number of recordings testifying to his astonishing craftsmanship and exquisite sense of melody, balancing skill and spontaneity. The works recorded here confirm his ability to write one gorgeous tune after another.
Atsuko Sahara, violin
John Lenehan, piano
Sonata in E major, Op. 40 (1900)
Phantasie for solo violin (1921)
Aus Jotunheim (1892)
Sonata Trilogica (1925)
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Catalogue No: TOCC0024EAN/UPC: 5060113440242Release Date: Composer: Julius Röntgen Artists: Atsuko Sahara,
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Robert Maxham :
“…there’s more to Röntgen than Brahms, as the Romanze from 1920 attests: Colorful harmonic twists, idiomatic writing for the violin, and an engaging musical personality elevate his music above the level of slavish imitation. …[E-Major Sonata:] Sahara plays folk-like figures authoritatively, and she makes the rich lyrical outpouring of the elegiac Lento grow more strenuously expressive as the movement proceeds. The duo presses the finale urgently. Its principal thematic material may not sound so Brahmsian as does its development; and the movement displays traces of a mysterious Romanticism that cements its individual identity. …[Phantasie for Solo Violin:] The music is not polyphonic, although an occasional figure suggests Bach’s writing for solo violin. The brief Allegro scherzando that follows isn’t polyphonic either, resembling, perhaps more than any other Baroque model, the monophonic fantasies of Georg Philipp Telemann. Sahara imparts to the fourth movement Allegro energico, and the sonata’s epilogue fifth movement, an appealing rhythmic drive and incisive articulation that could make it successful as an encore number. …Sahara and Lenahan unquestionably make as strong a case as they can for the unjustness of this neglect. Their program, in warm and clear recorded sound, therefore deserves attention more widely from explorers of musical byways.” Fanfare
Jonathan Woolf :
“Röntgen’s star has never shone more brightly on disc than now. …The Romanze in G minor dates from 1920 and this lied shows the quality of his sweetly lyric invention. It prefaces the much earlier Sonata in E major, Op.40 which has its fair quotient of Brahms-and-Elgar about it – the Elgar of the early salon miniatures – but it remains dominated by Brahms’ Op.78 Violin Sonata. Still, for all that, certain individual elements do emerge, most prominently the clod-hopping peasant dance enshrined in the Scherzo. As admirers of his string trios will know he had a real affinity for the gently folkloric and he imbeds it here in his violin works from time to time. The slow movement and finale are both particularly redolent of Brahms but the skill lies in the assimilation. The Phantasie for solo violin dates from 1921 and is interesting for not evoking either of the two expected lodestars – Bach and Reger. Instead it is lighter, indeed at points capricious – not least in the delightful scherzo movement – and makes some demands on the performer especially in the Allegro energico section. …Aus Jotunheim …is a vibrant set, warmly textured, affectionately laid out for the two instruments, and mining the folkloric in the finale where the motifs evoke cow-calls. A hymnal paragraph here is very beautiful – but then so is the whole piece. Finally there is the Sonata Trilogica of 1925, the most free and modern-sounding of the five works. Röntgen sounds quite close to the almost-contemporaneous Delius Second Violin Sonata in the first movement in its fluidity and harmony. Interestingly he goes in for a trio-less scherzo and ends the sonata with a passacaglia but one bedecked with sweet lyricism and ending in lovely calm. …these are most attractive pieces, sensitively played.” MusicWeb International
Alan Howe :
This is a very high quality CD in every way. The Op.40 Sonata is a particular favourite of mine – wonderfully lyrical and beautifully played.
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