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Hans Gal: Violinkonzert; Violinsonaten

Gal / Irnberger / Sinaiski
Release Date: 07/12/2011 
Label:  Gramola   Catalog #: 98921   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hans Gál
Performer:  Thomas Albertus IrnbergerEvgeni Sinaiski
Conductor:  Roberto Paternostro
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GÁL Violin Concerto, op. 39. Violin Sonatas: op. 17; in D Thomas Albertus Irnberger (vn); Roberto Paternostro, cond; Israel CO; Evgueni Sinaiski (pn) GRAMOLA 98921 (SACD: 75:30)

Violinist Thomas Irnberger has compiled a collection of works for violin by the Viennese expatriate composer (living and working in the United Kingdom after the Read more style="font-style:italic">Anschluss ) Hans Gál (1890–1987), including not only two violin sonatas but also the Concerto for Violin and Very Small Orchestra, with which the program begins. According to the notes, both the concerto and the Sonata in D Major come from the period of 1932–33, in the latter year of which he had experienced a personal encounter with Adolf Hitler during a ceremony honoring Richard Wagner. In any case, the three-movement prototypically Viennese concerto opens with an atmospheric “Fantasia,” firmly tonal though chromatically meandering. The solo part weaves itself into the orchestral fabric, highlighted with woodwind timbres (the piece opens with an oboe solo), and the engineers have tucked Irnberger neatly there. The violinist doesn’t attempt to make a grand statement (even in the cadenza near the movement’s center, which in any case seems to serve musical rather than virtuoso ends), creating for the solo part a somewhat reticent personality. The second movement begins with what sounds almost like a pastoral woodwind solo, and the movement develops in a simple but lush folk-like outpouring in which Irnberger interweaves sensitively with Roberto Paternostro and the Israel Chamber Orchestra. A ruminative cadenza, harmonically more adventurous, serves as a transition to the finale, which, despite its sprightly tempo, never evolves into a violinistic showpiece; the mood, in any case, softens into the kind of atmospheric meditation featured in the two preceding movements, except during the almost strident cadenza near the end. Once again, Irnberger sinks the individual in the service of the concerto’s overall aesthetic.

The three-movement Violin Sonata, op. 17, from about 1922, opens with an imposing statement for solo piano and an auspicious entry for the violinist that mark it as a work in the grand manner, once again seemingly Viennese (some of the harmonies suggest works like the Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta by the quintessential Viennese violinist-composer Fritz Kreisler, even though Christian Heindl’s booklet notes mention “involuntary” resemblances to the works of Johannes Brahms). Perhaps Irnberger’s own Austrian origins (born and trained in Salzburg) account for some of the ambiance. The second movement’s slightly faster tempo allows it to serve as the scherzo-like centerpiece of a three-movement design of slow-fast-slow movements, although, as in some of Brahms’s works, the tempos here seem to assimilate to each other. Irnberger and Evgueni Sinaiski play this movement with especially delicate sensibility, although Irnberger’s passages on the G string exhibit a ruddy glow (it doesn’t seem as though Gál’s works in general exploit these instrumental tonal possibilities, maintaining as they do a rather high tessitura). The lush but somber third movement occasionally rises to moments of intense expressivity in Irnberger’s and Sinaiski’s performance before ebbing into a meditative ending.

Heindl explains that although the composer completed his Sonata in D Major in 1933, he never published it, though, reviewing the manuscript later in life, he found it “good.” Once again, a scherzo (this time explicitly marked as such) takes its place at the sonata’s center, but in general the writing for both instruments seems to veer less often into ruminative channels than did its counterpart. The duo rises to the first movement’s more high-flown rhetoric, with its expanded harmonic palette. As in the earlier sonata, too, the quicker central movement occasionally pauses to allow the instrumentalists to smell the roses, though it ends puckishly enough. The finale’s opulent opening licenses Irnberger at last to revel in the rich lower registers of his violin before launching authoritatively into the bracing Allegro.

Gramola’s recorded sound balances the violin and orchestra in the concerto and the two instruments in the sonatas. Budding aficionados of the composer’s music—and of the music of the period—should deeply appreciate Irnberger’s efforts to make his works known. Recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin, Op. 39 by Hans Gál
Performer:  Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin)
Conductor:  Roberto Paternostro
Period: Modern 
Written: 1932 
Date of Recording: 09/2010 
Venue:  Casino Baumgarten, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 25 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in B flat minor, Op. 17 by Hans Gál
Performer:  Evgeni Sinaiski (Piano), Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/2010 
Venue:  Saal Schweighofer, Salzburg 
Length: 26 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in D major by Hans Gál
Performer:  Evgeni Sinaiski (Piano), Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933 
Date of Recording: 10/2010 
Venue:  Saal Schweighofer, Salzburg 
Length: 23 Minutes 23 Secs. 

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