WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1 in F sharp minor; Violin Sonata in D minor; Cello Sonata in E minor; Serenade for Violin and Piano
PERFORMER: Seta Tanyel (piano)Lydia Mordkovitch (violin)Colin Carr (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 14482 DDD
Polish-German musician Franz Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924) had a successful international career as a virtuoso pianist and as an educator, opening a conservatory in Berlin in 1881, and a branch in New York ten years later, at the very time when Dvorák made his celebrated trip across the Atlantic.
The chamber works in this collection all feature Scharwenka’s own instrument, the piano, so it’s no surprise that it is a pianist, Seta Tanyel, who has been the inspiration behind the series of recordings of which this is the latest instalment. Her contributions are expert and highly sensitive to the composer, whose eloquence is never in doubt.
The Piano Trio and Violin Sonata are early works, which reflect an admiration for Schumann and for Classical principles. More strikingly individual is the Cello Sonata, composed around 1880 for Scharwenka’s Berlin chamber concerts. This is a powerfully Romantic piece which displays a marvellous understanding of the duo combination, ranging across many moods but maintaining a firm sense of direction, especially in this strong performance by Colin Carr and Seta Tanyel.
The Serenade for violin and piano was composed some years later, in America, and is a slighter piece, charming and fluent. These artists clearly believe in this music; and rightly so, for here is a composer well worth investigating. Terry Barfoot