This is almost unknown, lovely, unfailingly melodious late-Romantic chamber music, a treat for anyone who values the wistful themes, powerful developments and mahogany textures of Brahms and his contemporaries. Indeed Robert Fuchs became a good friend of Brahms, after an unpromising introduction which may tell us more about the older man’s misanthropy than Fuchs’s talents: seeking to introduce the two men, Max Bruch showed Brahms some of Fuchs’s music, to which Brahms simply replied, "Where did you find such fine manuscript paper?"
Fuchs was of a late generation, however, and his music moves forward into the 20th century, not with the bold iconoclasm of the Second Viennese School but the urgent post-Romanticism ofRead more Korngold and Goldmark. Composed in 1915, Op.103 is the last of his six violin sonatas and dedicated to no less than Adolf Busch, perhaps the most sublime chamber musician in recorded history to judge from his work with his own quartet and pianists such as Artur Rubinstein. For Busch to champion Fuchs’s work should indicate something of its real and lasting qualities. Of the three movements that make up the sonata, the first two are particularly rich in musical elements that prefigure the language of certain later composers, such as Sibelius and Strauss.
The Op.115 trio is scored for piano, violin and (unusually) viola, for which there are certain precedents written by Mozart and Schumann. Perhaps most notable to us now is its resemblance, at least in certain harmonic twists and the intensity of its development, to the much grander works of Gustav Mahler. In fact Mahler was an early pupil of Fuchs, but the trio is written after Gustav had died of heart disease in 1911, his reputation already assured to posterity in a way that Fuchs’ was not.
The 6 Phantasiestücke Op.117 for viola and piano were Fuchs’s last works, composed during the final year of his life, 1927. Although the title naturally brings Schumann to mind, in terms of content these pieces have more in common with the four collections of piano works written by Brahms in 1892. They appear to express a sort of detachment from the world and the fraught events of the period, as though the composer were withdrawing into himself to look back with Straussian nostalgia. Late, late Romanticism in sweet bloom.
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) was born in Austria near the border of Slovenia. He went to Vienna for his musical education and became a close friend of Johannes Brahms, who expressed himself very favourably about his music (“beautiful, perfectly written and fascinating in its inventiveness”). Later Fuchs became Director of the Vienna Conservatory, and teacher of an impressive array of students: Mahler, Zemlinsky, Schreker, Sibelius, Schmidt, Enescu, Wolf…
Fuchs’ chamber music reflects the musical atmosphere of late 19th century Vienna: highly expressive, wide tonality, extensive use of chromatism.
– Excellent performances by three young Italians: pianist Enrico Maria Polimanti, violinist Giulio Plotino, violist Claudio Cavaletti: committed and passionate playing!
– Excellent liner notes by the pianist. Read less
Ripe for rediscoveryAugust 25, 2016By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"The perception of classical music is that its immutable -- the great composers have always been considered great, and the works we revere have always been so. Of course, the reality is quite different. Take Robert Fuchs, for example. At the turn of the 20th Century, he was considered one of the greatest living composers. Brahms admired him, and he was much sought-after as a teacher. His list of pupils includes Erich Korngold, Gustav Mahler, Franz Schmidt, Hugo Wolf, Alexander von Zemlinsky and George Enescu. Fuchs did little to promote his own music, often letting opportunities pass by. Nevertheless, his serenades and his chamber music were staples of the repertoire. And, as this release demonstrates, with good reason. The Piano Trio of 1921 is a great example of Fuchs' mature style. His shimmering post-romantic harmonies were emulated by Zemlinsky and Schmidt. Fuchs uses a viola rather than a cello in this trio, and it gives the ensemble a lighter texture, making the harmonies even more ethereal. Fuchs' 1915 Violin Sonata seems to be more concerned about delivering well-crafted melodies than showcasing technical challenges. Violinist Giulio Platino's expressive playing makes the most of those gorgeous melodies, without being overly dramatic (or even melodramatic). The 6 Fantaiestücke for viola date from 1927, the year of Fuchs' death. These pieces are warmly lyrical, and perhaps a little nostalgic. One can hear what appealed to Brahms in this work, I think. This recording helped me understand why Fuchs enjoyed such high regard. I'm puzzled why he still doesn't today."Report Abuse