JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH Solo Violin Sonata No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005
magisterial compendium of compositional styles and instrumental techniques,
Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin have delighted
listeners and performers since their rediscovery in the mid-1800s. The three
sonatas share the standard layout of a four-movement Italian sonata da chiesa (“church sonata”). Each
is centered on a mighty fugue—or, in the case of the C-Major Sonata, an
ingenious double fugue.
ALFRED SCHNITTKE Violin Sonata No. 2,
“Quasi una sonata”
Russian composer of German extraction, Schnittke is best known for his
stylistically eclectic and richly expressive string quartets, symphonies, and
concertos. The Violin Sonata No. 2, composed in 1968, signaled the composer’s
embrace of a compositional principle that he called “polystylism.” The music
blends avant-garde sounds and instrumental techniques with a recurring
four-note motif based on the four letters of Bach’s name.
PAUL HINDEMITH Solo Violin Sonata, Op.
31, No. 1
before his expressionistic operas and other mold-breaking works made him a
household name in Weimar Germany, Hindemith had a promising career as a
chamber violinist. Both his virtuosity and his intimate knowledge of the
instrument are apparent in this, the second of his three sonatas for solo
violin. With its subliminal echoes of Bach’s unaccompanied violin music, this
sonata is at once boldly modernist and deeply traditional.
JOHANNES BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 3 in D
Minor, Op. 108
wrote the last of his three violin sonatas in the late 1880s. The D-Minor Sonata
reflects his close friendship with Hungarian violin virtuoso and composer
Joseph Joachim, to whom he often turned for artistic advice. Dark and
impassioned, the music may also allude to his longtime platonic love affair with
pianist and composer Clara Schumann.