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Rubinstein, Hindemith,  Bloch, Matoušek

F1 0062    [8595017406225]
TT- 65:16    released 7/1995

Anton Rubinstein (1829 - 1894)
Sonata in F minor, Op. 49
1. Moderato   9:28
2. Andante   5:18
3. Moderato con moto   7:29
4. Allegro assai   8:49

Paul Hindemith (1895 - 1963)
Sonata For Solo Viola, Op. 25, No. 1
1. Largamente   1:57
2. Molto energico e severo   2:25
3. Molto lento   4:33
4. Prestissimo. Furioso   1:41
5. Lento con grande impetuoso   4:22

Ernest Bloch (1880 - 1959)
Suite Hébraique   13:21
1. Rapsodie   6:46
2. Processional   2:13
3. Affirmation   4:12

Lukáš Matoušek (1943)
Intimate Music (For Solo Viola)   5:06

Karel Doležal, viola (Yu Iida, 1993)
Kyoko Hashimoto, piano Petrof

 The viola player who wants to begin his recital with nineteenth century music has not too much to choose from. The age of Romanticism was fascinated by the sound of a full symphony orchestra, and even in chamber music was little concerned with shades of tone colour and special effects. The most popular instruments were thus those with loud brilliance and technical virtuosity: the violin, the cello and the piano as solo instruments, and the string quartet for chamber music. ANTON RUBINSTEIN's Sonata in F minor (Op.49) is thus rather an exception; indeed it also exists in a violin and a cello version. Rubinstein (1829 - 1894) was a well-known pianist in his day, with a concert tour of Europe behind him at the age of twelve. Coming from a Jewish family on the western borders of the Russian Empire, he was receptive to western influences, and enjoyed his many trips to western Europe. His compositions were not pioneering in style, following that of Mendelssohn and Schumann. In Russia he was criticized for not making more use of national elements. Some of his works, like this sonata in F minor, are still popular in the chamber music repertoire.
     It was the twentieth century that discovered the full beauty of sound offered by the viola, and composers began writing for it much more. Karel Doležal has chosen three of these works: the three-movement Suite hébraique for viola (or violin) and piano, by ERNEST BLOCH, follows naturally on the Rubinstein sonata. Bloch (1880 - 1959) was born in Switzerland and studied the violin and composition in Geneva, Brussels, Frankfurt and Munich, and after 1916 divided his time between Switzerland and the U.S.A. His "Jewish" cycle which includes the famous Schelomo rhapsody for cello and orchestra, brought his fame as a composer of "Jewish" music. The Suite hébraique, originally for the viola and orchestra and later for viola and piano, dates from 1951. Bloch gave most of these compositions an epic, rhapsodic character. Bloch was a Neo-Romantic, and the themes of this "Jewish" music are not taken from synagogal or folk music, but express an emotional commitment, or, as the composer himself put it, "listening to an inner voice".
     The last two works in this recital by Karel Doležal are written for solo viola. PAUL HINDEMITH (1895 - 1963) was one of the major composers of the first half of the twentieth century, himself playing the violin and the viola, solo and in a quartet, and well aware of the possibilities of the two instruments. The growing power of the Nazi régime in Germany made life so difficult for him that in 1938 he emigrated to Switzerland and then to the U.S.A., returning to Europe in the fifties. Hindemith was one of the most prolific composers of the century; beginning in 1919 he wrote several viola sonatas, that for solo viola, Op.25, No.1, dating from 1922. In five movements, it is a mature work, dedicated to the outstanding Czech viola player Ladislav Černý (1891 - 1975). Hindemith's work has its roots deep in tradition, and is marked by strict construction and a firm sense of order. He never completely deserted tonal music.
     The Czech composer LUKÁŠ MATOUŠEK (born 1943) studied the clarinet and composition in Prague, the latter also in Brno. He founded and directs the ensemble Ars cameralis, playing both the clarinet and historical instruments; Ars cameralis has a repertoire of both medieval and contemporary music. "Intimate music for solo viola" was composed in the spring of 1968 for Karel Doležal; it was inspired by an unknown girl "with eyes as deep as a well", of whom he dreams. It is based on the twelve-tone all-interval row. Matoušek matured as a composer in the sixties, along with others reacting each in his own way to the New Music (Vostřák, Piňos, Kopelent and Komorous) in the freer atmosphere of the time in Czechoslovakia. His treatment of dodecaphony and the influence of the Vienna school was highly original, echoing at the same time the compositional principles of medieval composers.

Petr Pokorný

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