BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100
Composed between 1879 and 1888, Brahms’s three sonatas for violin and piano are works of mature and unostentatious mastery. In contrast with the Violin Concerto of 1878, the sonatas are predominantly intimate and conversational in tone. The warmth and intimacy of the A-Major Sonata reflect the composer’s close friendship and artistic collaboration with violinist Joseph Joachim.
PROKOFIEV Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80
Like much of the music Prokofiev wrote after his return to the Soviet Union in 1936, the dark-minded Sonata in F Minor represents an earnest attempt to mediate between his distinctively modernist style and the music for the masses that Soviet artists were expected to produce under the banner of “socialist realism.” The virtuosic brilliance of the violin part reflects the influence of David Oistrakh, to whom the sonata is dedicated.
BARTÓK Rhapsody No. 1 for Violin and Piano
Bartók mined Hungarian and Romanian folk music for the themes of his popular Rhapsody No. 1 for Violin and Piano. According to violinist Joseph Szigeti, the composer drew a distinction between “the unimaginative, premeditated incorporation” of folk material and “that degree of saturation with the folklore of one’s country which unconsciously and decisively affects the composer’s melodic invention, his palette, and his rhythmic imaginings.”
R. STRAUSS Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18
Written in 1887, when Strauss was just 23 years old, the Sonata in E-flat Major contains the seeds of the musical genius that would soon bear fruit in his pathbreaking symphonic tone poems and operas. Op. 18 was his last piece of abstract chamber music; virtually all of his later instrumental works would be inspired by literary or philosophical programs.