Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ferdinand David - Music for Violin & Piano (Stephan Schardt; Philipp Vogler)


Composer: Ferdinand David
  • (01) Salon-Duett, on a song of Eduard Haase in D major, Op. 25
  • (02-05) Suite for violin solo, Op. 43
  • (06-17)12 Salon pieces for violin & piano, Op. 24
  • (18-20) 3 Impromptus in Valse form, Op. 40

Stephan Schardt, violin
Philipp Vogler, piano
Date: 2012
Label: MDG



Violinist Stephan Schardt and pianist Philipp Vogler present works for solo violin (the Suite, op. 43) and for violin and piano (the rest) by Ferdinand David, perhaps best known as the violinist who collaborated with Felix Mendelssohn on that composer’s E-Minor Violin Concerto. The first of these, a Salon Duett , takes the form of variations on a song by Eduard Haase. The variations reveal a composer of idiomatic, and at times virtuosic, works for his instrument (the frequent double-stopping and sprightly bowings—Schardt claims to have followed the originals as closely as possible—stand worlds apart from the more chaste part in Mendelssohn’s concerto). Schardt’s notes cite an appreciation of David by his student August Wilhelmj, who ascribed to his teacher the honorable intention of reconciling Nicolo Paganini’s virtuosity with classical compositional principles. That same virtuosity recurs in the 11-and-a half-minute, four-movement Suite for Solo Violin (Menuett, Gavotte, Siciliano, and Gigue), clearly based on the solo compositions of Bach. As in the Duett , Schardt plays with brilliant agility, crisp articulation, and sharp wit, bringing the energy of period performance (Schardt served for a time as concertmaster of Musica Antiqua Cologne) to these technically complex works. If many of the movements hearken back to Bach, the third, a Siciliano, pours newer melodic wine into the older master’s bottle, and the fourth, introduces chunky double-stops into the dance form. If violinists don’t follow Schardt’s lead and add this work, as many have now done with Johann Georg Pisendel’s, to their repertoires, Schardt’s high-spirited and brilliant performance can hardly be to blame. 

The 12 Salon Pieces , together constituting about 40 minutes of the program, also seem particularly violinistic, and the composer has taken full advantage of his knowledge of the instrument in crafting these melodically appealing miniatures. But they’re no mere catalogue of violinistic devices: The first two, Praeludium and Scherzo, sound almost like piano pieces by Robert Schumann (one of David’s friends) in their rhythmic verve and melodic outlines. The syncopated Tanz continues in the previous piece’s zesty vein (Schardt and Vogler re-create for the listener a sense of its exhilaration). David balances a Romanze (with a virtuosic middle section), with a faster-paced Rondo, and follows it with Ballade—the ordering of the suite’s movements make it digestible as a whole as well as in its parts. The duo imparts a strongly urgent forward motion to the Lied and rhythmic drive to the Marsch. They lend a jaunty air to the Impromptu and a more sober, academic one to the Canon (at least in its earlier moments). In this last, Schardt draws an especially rich and commanding tone from the lower registers of his instrument. Finally, a piquant reading of Ständchen leads to the final piece, a more exuberant Capriccio. Especially for violinists, but for many other listeners as well, this suite of character pieces may stand out from the period’s general (and occasionally tedious) production as both idiomatic and ingratiating. The recital comes to a close with three impromptus “in the form of a waltz.” The notes point out some of the novel effects David achieved in these, such as, in the first number’s middle, the violin playing an extended E in various octaves and the piano shifting the harmonies under it before resuming the main waltz. In the second waltz, the duo evokes a more melancholy mood; they’re headlong in the third. 

Violinists, aficionados of the violin, as well as historians and general listeners, should find this program, its clear and rich recorded sound, and its enthusiastic and, at times, scintillating, performances highly appealing. Strongly recommended. 

-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE

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Ferdinand David (19 June 1810 – 18 July 1873) was a German virtuoso violinist and composer. David was a pupil of Louis Spohr and Moritz Hauptmann. David worked closely with Mendelssohn, providing technical advice during the preparation of the latter's Violin Concerto in E minor. He was also the soloist in the premiere of the work in 1845. David's 1742 Guarneri violin later became the main performance violin for Jascha Heifetz. David's own compositions number about 50 works. His most played piece today is his Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra (Op. 4).


Stephan Schardt has made a name for himself as a soloist and chamber musician on both the historical as well as the modern violin. Stephan Schardt was the concertmaster of Musica Antiqua Cologne and performed with the ensemble around the world. After the dissolution of Musica Antiqua Cologne, Stephan Schardt returned to the violin solo repertoire and played chamber music. He has had a close artistic collaboration with pianist Philipp Vogler since 2008. His wide-ranging repertoire of violin and other chamber music ranges from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries but also spans to compositions of the 20th century.


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