Friedrich Kuhlau: Violinsonater vol. 1
04 August 2014
David's Review Corner
David DentonDanish music was so threadbare in the early 19th century that today they readily embrace the young German-born Friedrich Kuhlau as one of their great composers.
He had arrived there in 1810 and was to find employment as a pianist, though his composing career was largely working as a hack-writer for a German publishing house, turning out countless works of a popular nature. His major breakthrough came with an opera, Elverhoj (The Elf Mound) written at the time of the Royal Wedding in 1828. Ill fortune dogged him, and soon after that success both of his parents died and his home burned down. The two added together broke his already frail health and he died aged 46. By that time he had composed a considerable amount of music, including the works for violin and piano on this disc. Dated from the 1820’s, all are shaped in three movements and stylistically owe a great deal to Schubert and Beethoven
, and it is probably that fact which left them overshadowed and soon forgotten. That is sad, as they are most pleasing, with the three in opus 76 being well within the scope of amateur musicians. Like Beethoven’s sonatas they are duos with an equally demanding part for piano, much of the thematic content given to the keyboard, the violin’s role being decorative. Finales are happy and lightweight, the Andante slow movement of the first of op. 76 being particularly charming. There is not a great deal to test the technique of either the violinist, Christina Astrand, or the pianist, Per Salo, and the recording achieves a nice balance.