Weill, Pfitzner, Barber – Sonatas for violoncello and piano

‘The performance of Barber’s Sonata makes an interesting contrast with the magnificent 1979 live recording by Charles Curtis and Earl Wild, especially in the first movement. Here, Curtis and Wild pace themselves more broadly, emphasising the eloquent gestures, whereas Viersen and Avenhaus concentrate on a passionate forward motion. Both approaches seem valid to me, and, indeed, I can thoroughly recommend all the playing on this — assured, intelligent and deeply felt.’

— Gramophone

Kurt Weill

The cello is treated as if it were a singer throughout the piece: the composer makes no use of the instrument’s other possibilities. In the last movement Weill’s strictly intellectual composition technique is spiced with simple melodies that are almost folk tunes: here already we can see something of the satirical theatre composer that he was to become.

Hans Pfitzner

Pfitzner’s music seems to be instrumental theatre music in which a large numbers of extras occupy the stage while the principal characters remain in the wings, having already played their most important scenes in the first and second movements. It is no surprise that, shortly after having composed this youthful work, Pfitzner would make his name as a composer of Wagnerian operas such as Der arme Heinrich (1893) and Palestrina (1915).

Samuel Barber

Barber’s Cello Sonata op. 6 was composed during the final year of his studies in Philadelphia and was revised four years later in Rome. This agile and cinematic music at times gives the impression of having its origins in an improvisation. Barber nonetheless takes classical forms such as sonata form (first movement) and song form (second movement) as points of departure, although he adapts the forms so freely that it seems as if he is following his own spontaneous inspirations.

From the liner notes by Katja Reichenfeld, translated by Peter Lockwood.

‘Full credit must go to Viersen and Avenhaus who demonstrate vibrant spontaneity. Their tempi are commendably chosen which complements a natural and responsive approach. All in all a strong case is made for these youthful and lesser known scores and the sound quality is first rate.’

— MusicWeb International