Duos for violin and piano

RONDO in b minor op. 70, D. 895
FANTASY in C major op. posth. 159, D. 934
SONATA in A major op. posth. 162, D. 574

Jeannie Wells Yablonsky, violin
Robert Markham, piano

Catalog #S022568CD [DDD]

Program Notes

Schubert's story is one of the most touching of all composers; he died young, aged only thirty-one, and left a larger number of works than any other great composer; he died with his genius unrecognized, except by his friends, and it took most of the nineteenth century for his true stature to be realized. Like every genuine musician Schubert had the gift of intuition, but he was also an enormously hard worker, taking great pains to satisfy himself and to win a reputation; and like most of us he alternated between merriment and gloom. Schubert's speed of composition prompted people to class him as "clairvoyant". It is clear from all accounts that the actual creating of music came wonderfully easily to him, but his phenomenal speed resulted from unusual powers of concentration and application, and not simply from facility. That he was to a large extent unsuccessful in the worldly sense was due in part to the fact that he never held any official position; and unlike Beethoven he was not supported by aristocratic patrons. His friends were men with sympathies akin his own - painters, poets and fellow-musicians - who stood by him loyally. His life was dominated by the impulse to compose, and neither sickness nor any other misfortune did anything to weaken the driving force of his imagination. However, of his life's total of nearly 1,000 compositions roughly 600 were written before he was 21. An examination of his chamber music shows a similar proportion: only one-third was written in the last ten years of his life.

The Rondo (1826) and the Fantasy in C major (1827) are both show pieces, written for the Czech violinist Josef Slavik, who was described by Chopin as a second Paganini. The Rondo was published during Schubert's lifetime, in 1827, with the title "Rondeau brilliant pour Pianoforte et Violin". It is a powerful, extrovert work, with a bewildering variety of key changes and a long development section based on new material. The introductory Andante is linked with the Allegro not only by the fact that it provides the initial thematic impetus for the Rondo but also by the inclusion of some of its material at the end of the exposition.

The Fantasy was first performed by Slavik and Bocklet in January 1828 in Vienna. The piece is an elaborate composition in several sections:
I. Andante molto (C major)
II. Allegretto (A minor and major, modulating to A flat major)
III. Andantino (theme and variations, A flat major)
IV. Tempo primo (modified recapitulation of I. C major)
V. Allegro vivace (C major and A major)
VI. Allegretto (further variation of III. A flat major)
VII. Presto(Coda of V. C major)
In section III (Theme and variations) Schubert used a theme derived from his song "Sei mir gegrusst' (Receive my greetings), D. 741 (1821) . Instead of taking over the vocal melody Schubert produced a new composite version, based partly on the tune and partly on the piano accompaniment.

The Sonata in A major, composed in 1817, was published fifteen years later, entitled 'Duo', Op. 162. The work illustrates Schubert's habit of using more than two keys in an exposition and also his inclination to desert the principal key of a movement at an early stage. The first movement settles happily in E major, only to change this to E minor. From there, by way of G major and a characteristic modulation to B major the music eventually comes back to E major again. In the slow movement, in C major, the principal key is abandoned after the first eight bars: a section in D flat major follows before the original key returns. In the recapitulation there is a favorite device: the simple theme is accompanied by a rhythmical figure which is derived from the middle section of the movement. In this work the Scherzo precedes the slow movement, which is just as well, since the Finale has many of the characteristics


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