Masterclass: Schumann sonata no.1 op.105 for violin and piano

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Alexandra Wood explores the passionate and highly effective work of a composer tormented by his own ideals

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Written in just a few days in September 1851 when the composer confessed to being ‘extremely angry with certain people’, Schumann’s first Violin Sonata is a telling witness to his feelings. Things were not going well for him as Düsseldorf’s municipal music director, but at least the concertmaster of the Düsseldorf Musikverein, Wilhelm Josef von Wasielewski, appreciated his musicianship, describing the ‘depth of feeling and wealth of creativity’ evident in this piece. From the very start of the first movement we are launched into the drama and borne along on the tide of its momentum. There is no introduction, just a passionate theme underpinned by the piano right hand, which is always off the beat and which generates an urgency in a similar way to Fauré’s piano chamber music. It is like opening the door and stepping straight into a rather dark and troubled world…

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