Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz | The Grey Light of Day: Grieg and Wurts Sonatas

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The Grey Light of Day: Grieg and Wurts Sonatas

by Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz

Sonatas for viola with piano that are of a Romantic and Post Romantic/Impressionistic genre.
Genre: Classical: Sonata
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cello Sonata in A Minor, Op 36: I. Allegro agitato (Arr. Viola)
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
9:54 $0.99
2. Cello Sonata in A Minor, Op 36: II. Andante molto tranquillo (Arr. Viola)
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
5:53 $0.99
3. Cello Sonata in A Minor, Op 36: III. Allegro molto e marcato (Arr. Viola)
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
12:34 $0.99
4. Viola Sonata No. 2, Op. 52: I. Allegro
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
13:27 $0.99
5. Viola Sonata No. 2, Op. 52: II. Nocturne
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
8:28 $0.99
6. Viola Sonata No. 2, Op. 52: III. Halling & Gangar
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
5:41 $0.99
7. Viola Sonata No. 2, Op. 52: IV. Autumn
Carrie Frey & Robert Fleitz
6:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Cello Sonata in A Minor, Op. 36 (Arr. for Viola) by Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg, one of the best-known composers to come out of the Nordic countries, was a restless soul, torn between the solitude of the fjord valleys of Norway and the concert halls of the large cities of Continental Europe. Throughout his life he was dogged by a fear that art would fall into irrelevance. Often Grieg would visit the Leipzig Conservatory where he studied music composition so that he might discover musical trends popular with the younger generations.

Poor health dampened his musical inspiration and lofty goals; as one could quote from the Scriptures, “. . . the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” During 1883, Grieg’s inner conflicts culminated in a personal, marital and artistic crisis. It is at this time that he completed his cello sonata, dedicated to his brother John, an amateur cellist who briefly attended the Leipzig Conservatory. In the fall of 1883 Friedrich Grützmacher premiered the A minor Cello Sonata in Dresden with Grieg at the piano.

In the years before the sonata’s composition, Dr. Max Abraham of Edition Peters, the publishing house that printed Grieg’s scores, requested a second piano concerto as a follow-up to the already famous A minor piano concerto. After a few sketches, Grieg had to confess in a letter to Dr. Abraham that his attempts offered scant results with little to no inspiration. Only a few sketches remain in archives to attest to Grieg’s frustration. Grieg was, however, able to produce the Waltz Caprices, Op. 37 and the Lyric Pieces, Op. 38, for Peters that year in addition to the Cello Sonata, Op. 36.

While it is one of Grieg’s most expansive, Romantic works, the cello sonata brings nothing new to the table. Grieg mines prior compositions for technique and thematic material. The piano part in the closing section of the first movement hints at the A minor Piano Concerto. The “Homage March” from his dramatic work, Siguard Jorsalfør, was lifted right out and used as the principal theme in the second movement. Nevertheless, this work elevates Grieg beyond the miniatures he was best known for and is among his most substantial pieces. Despite Grieg’s own dismissive attitude towards this sonata, it is well crafted and pleases the most demanding listener’s ears.

Carrie Frey came up with the idea of recording a viola performance of the Grieg cello sonata for release on this CD, to complement my own viola sonata. After thinking about it, I agreed with the concept and Carrie embarked on arranging the work for her instrument. Although I thought it was a good idea, I had some qualms about recording the Grieg cello sonata on the viola. A couple of years before his passing I consulted with the late Morten Eide Pedersen who was at the time head of studies in contemporary composition at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen. His reply to my concerns was, “. . . interesting question. This is outside the privileged copyright time, so I don't think the publishers nor the estate/museum of Grieg is to be asked. If you want to inform them, [that] is another matter. If it is done properly it could be an interesting approach to the piece.” I believe that Grieg would have been pleased and perhaps intrigued with this performance of his cello sonata as arranged for viola by Carrie Frey.

Viola Sonata No. 2, Op. 52 by David Wurts

David Wurts is a self-taught composer who writes in neo-Post Romantic and Neo-Impressionistic styles. His Viola Sonata No 2 in F # Major like many of his other works was inspired by the works of Edvard Grieg. In particular the Grieg Piano Sonata in e minor was the role model for the first movement. Where Grieg has his principal theme descending in the key of e minor Wurts has his principal theme ascending in the key of F # gypsy minor against the piano part played in the key of F # Major. Starting with measure 154 Wurts pays homage to Grieg by having the piano take on an alberti bass that is reminiscent of the opening to the Grieg Piano Sonata.

The opening to the second movement has the piano impersonating crickets on a summer night with the viola performing pizzicato themes. The opening was inspired by Elmer Bernstein’s score for the movie To Kill a Mockingbird in the scene where Jem, Scout and Dill creep up to the Radley house at night to sneak a peek at Boo Radley. Starting with the second half of measure 22 Wurts again pays homage to Grieg by having the piano part take on a texture and chromaticism reminiscent of Grieg’s Nocturne, Op 54, No 4. Instead of 9/8 time as in the Grieg Nocturne Wurts has this section in 12/8 time with implied ties between the third and fourth, sixth and seventh, ninth and tenth, and twelfth and first beats. The viola takes on a legato theme that floats above.

The opening theme and the secondary theme of the third movement has the viola impersonating the Hardanger fiddle, a folk instrument from western part of Norway that has strings below the performance strings that vibrate sympathetically when the top strings are played. Both themes are in the Lydian mode in keeping with Norwegian folk fiddle idiom. The first theme, played by the viola in a solo performance, is a Halling. This is an all-male dance where the participants show off their dancing prowess. It starts out much like the Russian Cossack dance with the dancer ultimately doing stunts like kicking the rafters and other outlandish acrobatics in an attempt to outdo the other participants. The secondary theme is a Gangar, a dance from the Telemark region of Norway. It is a walking dance in 2/4 time performed by paired off couples. Both the Halling and Gangar themes are original compositions of David Wurts and reflect his impressions of the many Norwegian folk fiddle tunes that he has listened to over the years.

The last movement has the piano and viola taking up themes that portray blowing autumn wind and autumn leaves floating to the ground. Fall is David Wurts’ favorite time of the year and this movement embodies his childlike fascination for the season. The 2nd Viola Sonata was nearing completion by the autumn of 2013. The autumn leaves were at their peak when Wurts started the fourth movement. In measure 9 the viola introduces the sober autumn theme against the backdrop of falling leaves as portrayed in the piano part. From measure 85 to measure 99 the capricious autumn fairies come out and dance. All the levity comes to an end when the autumn leaves begin to fall again and the wind picks up its pace.



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