An album celebrating a remarkable decade of musical invention

Friederike Starkloff: Traum und Trauma

The Strad Issue: July 2024

Description: An album celebrating a remarkable decade of musical invention

Musicians: Friederike Starkloff (violin) Endri Nini (piano)

Works: Antheil: Violin Sonata no.2. Debussy: Violin Sonata. Janáček: Violin Sonata. Schulhoff: Violin Sonata no.1 op.7

Catalogue number: GENUIN GEN24870 

In this recording, violinist Friederike Starkloff and pianist Endri Nini present a mini-survey of shifting musical styles in the first quarter of the 20th century. They open with Erwin Schulhoff’s First Violin Sonata, written in 1913 when he was 19. In the first-movement Allegro risoluto quirky, jerky motifs give way to moments of lyricism, its language veering between Romantic and the verge of atonality. In the long lines of the following Tranquillo Starkloff is always lyrical, before bringing lightness and wit to the following Presto. She imbues the sprightly Allegro moderato finale with sparkling energy.

There is a good deal of sensitive, delicate playing in the first movement of the Debussy sonata, outlining its quixotic dramatic narrative. Starkloff includes some fruity portamentos, not all of them marked, and does so again in the following Intermède. In the finale she and Nini revel in Debussy’s extensive palette of colours.

She starts Janáček’s sonata with a super-heated flourish, presaging the fierce, emotionally wrenching outpourings to come. The Ballada has intimate delicacy, and the central Meno mosso of the Allegretto has a sense of gentle questing before the bleak dialogues of the final Adagio.

In George Antheil’s Second Sonata (1923), in which popular music meets the avant-garde, Starkloff is variously seductive, swinging and biting au talon, and makes the most of such instructions as ‘giggled’ and ‘a little “off”’. At the end Nini forsakes the piano for a couple of small drums. The recording is warm and clear.