The Russian-born German violinist Alina Pogostkina and the French pianist Jérôme Ducros perform Claude Debussy's Violin Sonata in G minor, L.140. Recorded live at Solsberg Festival, Stadtkirche St Martin, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, on June 11, 2016.
Debussy's Sonata for violin and piano, third in a projected series of six chamber sonatas, was the last work the composer completed before his death in 1918. Progress on the sonata caused Debussy a great deal of frustration; in the end, he felt that it never really came together the way he had originally intended. Nevertheless, the work remains a powerful, forward-looking effort that manages to fuse elements of mainstream concert tradition with a wholehearted affinity for gypsy violin playing.
The Sonata unfolds in three movements: Allegro vivo, Intermède (Fantasque et léger), and Finale (Très animé). A broadly melodic flavor informs the first movement, enough so that Debussy clearly felt no need to include the separate slow movement typical of traditional sonatas. Indeed, the extremely legato gestures, frequent hemiolas, and generally long note values belie the movement's Allegro vivo indication, which, rather than reflecting the surface detail of the music, seems calculated to prompt the performers to provide a constant undercurrent of urgency. More active are the piano's arpeggio figurations as the music moves through several keys in preparation for the reprise of the opening material; even these, however, are marked pianissimo.
Of the three movements the Intermède is the most "fantastic", moving with ease between music marked scherzando and that of a more improvisatory nature. A wonderful chromatic melody, marked "expressif et sans rigueur", enters midway through the movement and is repeated just before the return of the opening material (now recast in a fuller, less rhapsodic fashion). A burst of energy from the violin is quickly extinguished as the movement dies away into nothingness.
Debussy had the most difficulty with the sonata's final movement. The opening theme of the first movement returns in the violin, accompanied by the piano in figuration that recalls the composer's Les estampes (1903). After this introductory gesture, the finale proper begins with an explosion of unaccompanied activity in the violin. This almost incessant stream of sixteenth notes is suspended on only a few occasions, each marking vital structural points; in one particuarly striking instance, the movement's main motive sounds pianissimo against a static, B flat major background. Unusually for Debussy, the work ends with a staunch fortissimo affirmation of the home key of G major.
In his last few compositions Debussy began to move away from the kind of pictorial, sensual music that had driven his work for the previous 15 or 20 years. Indeed, the Sonata for violin and piano provides a glimpse of what purely abstract musical wonders the composer might have wrought had he not succumbed to cancer at the age of 55.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
♪ Violin Sonata in G minor, L.140 (1917)
i. Allegro vivo [0:02]*
ii. Intermède: Fantasque et léger [5:01]
iii. Finale: Très animé [9:11]
Alina Pogostkina, violin
Jérôme Ducros, piano
Solsberg Festival, Stadtkirche St Martin, Rheinfelden, Switzerland, June 11, 2016
* Start time of each movement
Praised for her "deeply moving" performances (Hamburger Abendblatt), Alina Pogostkina, winner of the 2005 Sibelius Competition in Helsinki, performs at many of the world's most renowned festivals and concert venues. She has collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gustavo Dudamel, David Zinman, Jonathan Nott, Paavo Järvi, Michael Sanderling, David Afkham, Robin Ticciati, Thomas Hengelbrock and John Storgårds.
Highlights of this season include debuts with Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Mikko Franck, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Osmo Vänskä and Budapest Festival Orchestra with Marin Alsop. Alina Pogostkina will open the BBC Symphony Orchestra concerts season at the Barbican Centre performing Berg's Violin Concerto under the baton of Sakari Oramo. She will return to RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra with Clemens Schuldt and the Royal Stockhom Philharmonic Orchestra with Karl-Heinz Steffens.
Recent concerts have included Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, the Hallé, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NHK and Yomiuri Nippon symphony orchestras, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, SWR Symphonieorchester, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and hr-Sinfonieorchester. She celebrated major successes with Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre National de France and St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alina Pogostkina performs at festivals such as Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Bergen, Salzburger Festspiele, Edinburgh International Festival, Grafenegg Festival, Istanbul Music Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival and Easter Festival Aix-en-Provence.
Following studies of the baroque violin with Reinhard Goebel at Mozarteum Salzburg, Alina Pogostkina displays impressive versatility in diverse and wide-ranging repertoire from baroque and classical, often played on gut strings, to the modern masterworks. Collaborations with Reinhard Goebel include performances with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln.
An ardent chamber musician, she has worked with musicians such as Steven Isserlis, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer, Menahem Pressler, Christoph Eschenbach, Pekka Kuusisto, Maxim Rysanov, Jörg Widmann and Joshua Bell.
Appearing in numerous radio and television recordings and broadcasts, Pogostkina's passion for contemporary music is evident in her highly acclaimed recording of Pēteris Vasks' complete violin works, released in Spring 2012.
Born in 1983 in St Petersburg, Alina Pogostkina grew up in Germany. The first years she received her violin lessons from her father A. Pogostkin. She later studied with Antje Weithaas at Berlin's Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler. She plays the 1717 "Sasserno" by Antonio Stradivari, generously provided to her by the Nippon Music Foundation.
Jérôme Ducros was born in Avignon in 1974. He began to study music at the age of six, and in 1986 he entered the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental d'Orléans, and in 1990 he entered the Conservatoire de Paris where he studied under Gérard Frémy and Cyril Hervé. In 1994 he received 2nd prize and the Special Prize for the best performance of a piece by Boulez at the Concours international Umberto Micheli in Milan.
Frequently tours throughout the world. Takes part in festivals in Montpellier, La Roque d'Anthéron and Nantes and gives recitals at the finest venues in Paris, Amsterdam, London, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, New York and Tokyo.
As a soloist he appears with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Lyons and the Paris and Lausanne chamber orchestras. Performs chamber music with Augustin Dumay, Michel Dalberto, Paul Meyer, Gérard Caussé, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Renaud Capuçon and Gautier Capuçon. Regularly tours with the cellist Jérôme Renoo and the vocalists Diana Damrau, Angelika Kirchschlager, Ian Bostridge, Stéphanie d'Oustrac and Philippe Jaroussky. Has performed the world premieres of works by Henri Dutilleux, Philippe Leroux, Jérémie Rhorer, Pierre Boulez and many other composers.
Collaborates with the recording companies Quartz, Virgin Classics and other renowned labels. Has attained success as a composer. His works include pieces for cello and piano, a piano trio, a trio for two cellos and piano, a piano quintet, song cycles and a concerto for piano and cello. The arrangement of Schubert's Fantasia in F minor for Two Pianos into a fantasia for two hands was included in album of Schubert's fantasias (Ligia Digital) and was awarded the Diapason d'Or prize (2001).
Engagements for the current season include concert with Gautier Capuçon at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, the Koerner Hall in Toronto, London's Wigmore Hall and Schloss Elmau in Germany, as well as an appearance with Anastasia Kobekina and Alma Deutscher at the Easter Festival in Aix en Provence.
“Debussy: one of the most original of moderns”, 1908, & “French composer Claude Debussy dies”, 1918 – Two articles from the Guardian archive
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