Ravishing performance of Maier

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LABELS: dB Productions
WORKS: Maier Violin Sonata in B minor; Nine Pieces; Four Songs; Brahms: Auf dem See
PERFORMER: Sabina Bisholt (soprano), Cecilia Zilliacus (violin), Bengt Forsberg (piano)


The second volume of music by Swedish violinist- composer Amanda Maier (1853-94) provides further evidence of a considerable talent silenced at a tragically early age. Maier described her B minor Violin Sonata as ‘a little wild’ – not in the Berlioz sense, I suspect, but rather because of its impassioned sense of Schumannesque fantasy. Overflowing with enchanting lyrical invention, the Sonata compels the listener along with a keen sense of emotional narrative. Cecilia Zilliacus and Bengt Forsberg play this ravishing score with a melting sensitivity, phrasal intuitiveness and infectious spontaneity so completely at one with the music, it feels as though one is on a hot-line to the composer’s original source of inspiration.

That same sense of glowing expressive candour informs the set of nine captivating violin-and- piano pieces Maier composed in 1878, of which only six were published at the time. Dating from the same year are four settings of Carl-David af Wirsén, probably composed for Swedish soprano Louise Pyk, whose Mendelssohnian grace and Brahmsian vigour is brought sparklingly to life by Sabina Bisholt. To round things off in style, Zilliacus and Forsberg perform Brahms’s Op. 106 song Auf dem See (a popular Maier encore) on Maier’s own 18th-century Fiscer violin.

Julian Haylock