Stenhammar: Piano Sonata in A flat, Op. 12; Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 19; Allegro ma non tanto; Allegro brillante in E flat

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COMPOSERS: Stenhammar
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Piano Sonata in A flat, Op. 12; Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 19; Allegro ma non tanto; Allegro brillante in E flat
PERFORMER: Lucia Negro (piano), Tale Olsson, Patrik Swedrup (violin), Helena Nilsson (cello), Ingegerd Kierkegaard (viola)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-764
In spite of a frustrating tendency to begin works and leave them unfinished, Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) was the leading Swedish composer of his generation and, as pianist and conductor, an ever-present figure in his nation’s concert halls. His compositions are frankly derivative. Carl Nielsen found in the A flat Piano Sonata hints of Mendelssohn and even Beethoven, and he could justly have pointed to the Schumannesque dotted rhythms in the Molto vivace movement. There are shades of Brahms in the Violin Sonata and of Mendelssohn, again, in the Allegro ma non tanto – an independent piece intended for a projected but typically uncompleted Piano Trio.

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Forget about the models. The music is full of agreeable melodies and lush harmonies, well crafted and sound in structure. Lucia Negro contributes a thoughtful account of the Piano Sonata, though her fluctuations in tempo are a bit wayward for my taste. Olsson is sweet-toned in the Violin Sonata, passionate in the outer movements and lyrical in the ravishing central Andantino. The rest is splendid. A must for explorers of the musical byways. Wadham Sutton