LABELS: dB Productions
ALBUM TITLE: Maier
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D minor; Piano Quartet in E minor; Swedish Tunes and Dances
PERFORMER: Gregory Maytan (violin), Bernt Lysell (viola), Sara Wijk (cello), Ann-Sofi Klingberg (piano); Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Andreas Stoehr
CATALOGUE NO: dBCD 174
Although today little more than a footnote in the history of late Romantic music, Amanda Maier (1853-94) was a profoundly gifted musician whose early death (probably from tuberculosis) robbed the world of a burgeoning creative talent. Born in Sweden and starting out as a violinist-composer, she stopped performing publicly following her marriage to composer Julius Röntgen in 1880.
They were by all accounts a devoted couple, collaborating on a number of opuses, including the Swedish Tunes and Dances, a set of six enchanting salon pieces for violin and piano shaded by the stylistic imprimaturs of their close friends, Brahms, Joachim and Grieg. Violinist Gregory Maytan and pianist Ann-Sofi Klingberg take the music’s considerable difficulties in their stride, creating the uncanny impression of domestic music-making, while radiating a warm glow of musical contentment.
The one-movement Violin Concerto is an earlier work, dating from 1875 when Maier was a student in Leipzig. Such was the impact of her playing at its premiere in Halle that she was invited to undertake a series of extensive tours. Synthesising Schumannesque fantasy with the virtuoso flair of Saint-Saëns, it is melodically enchanting and mellifluously orchestrated.
The Brahmsian E minor Piano Quartet, Maier’s final major work, dates from 1891 and was much admired by Grieg. Heartbroken at his wife’s death, Röntgen poignantly inscribed the score ‘Not all of me will die.’ The high quality of Maier’s inspiration is matched by the seemingly effortless poise of these sensitive, devoted performances, captured in commendably well-balanced sound.