Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek | Forgotten Romantics

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Forgotten Romantics

by Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek

Forgotten Romantics - Three romantics works for clarinet and piano, that are rarely played.
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 38: I. Allegro moderato
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
6:55 $0.99
2. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 38: II. Adagio ma non troppo
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
6:42 $0.99
3. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 38: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto vivace
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
4:35 $0.99
4. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-Flat Major, Op. 38: IV. Finale. Allegro con brio
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
6:49 $0.99
5. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 129: I. Allegro moderato
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
6:54 $0.99
6. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 129: II. Caoine. Adagio (Quasi Fantasia)
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
5:49 $0.99
7. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 129: III. Allegretto grazioso
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapekc
5:34 $0.99
8. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 31: I. Meriggio. allegro appassionato
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
8:37 $0.99
9. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 31: II. Notturno. larghetto
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
6:24 $0.99
10. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E-Flat Major, Op. 31: III. Alba. Allegro energico
Guy Yehuda & Ralph Votapek
5:45 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Forgotten Romantics-

When it comes to repertoire from the Romantic period for clarinet and piano, one will most refer to works by Brahms (1894), Saint-Saens (1921), or Schumann (1849), among others. Many other composers from this time period wrote fine works for the clarinet-piano duo, but for various reasons, as illustrated below, were not as favored by time. Brahms’s sonatas have served as the model for many who came after him, and were indeed the main source of inspiration for one of the three following composers in their endeavor to write sonatas for clarinet and piano. This collection of recordings represents a revival of three “Forgotten Romantics” that are arguably worth remembering, and who each offered their own individual and impressive mark on the genre.

The first of these, and the only one to pre-date Brahms, was Felix August Bernhard Draeseke (1835-1913), born in Coburg, Germany, was a composer of the "New German School," prolific in his compositions spanning most genres, including eight operas, four symphonies, six symphonic poems, preludes, overtures, three concerti, three string quartets, and a long list of other orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal and solo piano works.
Draeseke composed his first work at the age of eight, and would eventually go on to study at the Leipzig Conservatory. At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with an ear infection that would eventually lead to an almost complete loss of hearing.
Felix Draeseke was an admirer of Liszt, who championed the young composer and introduced him to the New German School. During an 1859 visit together to Weimar, Liszt facilitated an introduction to Wagner. Wagner’s music and treatment of melody proved to be a significant influence on Draeseke’s music from that point on. Draeseke would remain in Weimar from 1856-1861 until he moved close to Lausanne, Switzerland to develop his private teaching studio. Though popular as a composer, his main financial support came from private students until the age of 49, in 1884, when he received an official appointment teaching at the Dresden Conservatory. In 1894, two years after being appointed full professor, he married his former pupil Frida Neuhaus. Like Beethoven, as a result of the ear infection he contracted as a teenager, he suffered progressive hearing loss and was almost entirely deaf by the time he composed his fourth symphony, his last orchestral work, in 1912. He died of a stroke on February 26th, 1913 in Dresden.
His compositions enjoyed frequent performance in Germany during his lifetime by the leading artists of the day, including Hans von Bülow, Fritz Reiner, and Karl Böhm. His music was popular and well regarded throughout his life until well after his death. However, during the mid- 20th century, his work lost popularity, possibly in part due to the fact that his music, like that of Anton Bruckner and Max Reger, was promoted during the Third Reich. After World War II, his music’s former connection to Nazi patronage did not reconcile with changes in the political landscape, and changes in style and taste moved forward with time to obscure his former popularity.
Draeseke’s Sonata in B flat Major for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 38 was written at a highpoint of the composer's career. This work is a Romantic display of virtuosity and beauty, and it is unfortunate that this work is rarely played. Draeseke completed his clarinet sonata on May 22, 1887, and dedicated it to his colleague at the Dresden Conservatory, Friedrich Demnitz, principal clarinetist in the Dresden Hofkapelle. He later composed an alternate version of this same work for violin. In 1887, sonatas by composers like Brahms, Saint-Seans, Reger, and other prominent composers had not yet been written. For this reason, and due to its contribution to the clarinetist’s repertoire of music for clarinet and piano, Draeseke's Sonata, a sophisticated compositional whirlwind; at once pastoral, rhapsodic, wistful, and triumphant, could well be considered the first major clarinet sonata of the 19th century.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) was born in Dublin to an Irish Protestant family. Like Draeseke, Stanford also studied in Leipzig, with Carl Reinecke, before moving to Berlin to study with Friedrich Kiel. The time he spent studying in Germany would prove to be an important influence on his career. In 1887 (three years after Draeseke’s appointment in Dresden), Stanford was appointed Professor of Music at Cambridge, while also holding the position of Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music in London.
Stanford was highly influential as a teacher, greatly influencing the next generation of British composers, with students such as Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Frank Bridge, and Arthur Bliss. As a composer, he was most recognized between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, and was knighted in 1901. Stanford was a prolific composer, known especially for his orchestral works, which include seven symphonies and five Irish Rhapsodies. His other works include numerous choral pieces, 10 operas, and many songs. His music reflects the late 19th-century Romantic style, into which he introduced elements of Irish folk song.
Similar to Draeseke’s , Stanford’s Clarinet Sonata, Op. 129, was written during a high point in Stanford’s popularity. The work was completed in 1911 and is dedicated to the clarinetists Oscar Street and Charles Draper, a pupil of Henry Lazarus. Draper had been the soloist in Stanford's Clarinet Concerto in 1903 and gave the first performance of the sonata in 1916 with another former student of Stanford’s, Thomas Dunhill (who also contributed a substantial work to the clarinet’s repertoire of clarinet and piano works, Phantasy Suite Opus 91).

Stanford’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Op.129 is arguably one of the finest pieces in the English Romantic repertoire. Written in the spirit of Brahms, the work, alternating between tempestuous and reflective, has one of the most heart-wrenching second movements one is likely to hear in any work from this period. The sonata, like that of Brahms, starts with a sonata-form movement filled with traditional Romantic treatment of melody, notable for the equal interplay between piano and clarinet. The second movement is titled Caoine (Keen), an Irish lament marked Adagio (quasi Fantasia), and demonstrates Stanford’s affinity for Irish Folk tune through occasional reference to Irish harp in the arpeggiated chords of the piano. Brahms’ influence returns in the final Allegretto grazioso, with a declamatory opening and a secondary theme in the lower register of the clarinet, and throughout is still evident in the treatment of the clarinet and piano parts as equals.
Shortly after writing the Clarinet Sonata, Stanford’s popularity began to diminish, as musical tastes evolved and his music and style began to lose relevance. He died in March 1924 at the age of 71 in London, England.

Giacomo Setaccioli (1868-1925) vocal and instrumental composer and conductor, was born in Tarquinia, Italy, and died in Siena at the age of 57. He served as a lecturer at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, and eventually was appointed Director of the Florence Conservatory. Opera and vocal works historically reigned over Italy’s musical landscape, while composition of instrumental music was less prominent. Several composers, including Setaccioli, contributed to redefining this balance through their compositions for purely instrumental music. Much of Setaccioli’s music has been lost over time, possibly contributing to the lack of information we have of him today, but one of the few pieces that still remains of his operatic and chamber works is, thankfully, his Clarinet Sonata.

Setaccioli’s Clarinet Sonata, Op. 31 (1921), combines lush Romantic harmonies with beautiful, soaring lines rendering this one of the most compelling pieces of chamber music from the beginning of the twentieth century. The work is a combination of traditional treatment of melody and form with a more complex approach to harmony and rhythm. With movements titled “Afternoon,” “Nocturne,” and “Dawn,” and an epigraph, consisting of the third and fourth stanzas from “Sole e Amore” or “Sunlight and love,” we are given hints of programmatic yearning.

Sole E Amore

Lievi e bianche a la plaga occidentale
Van le nubi: a le vie ride e su ‘l fòro
Umido il cielo, ed a l’uman favoro
Saluta ip col, benigno, trionfale.

Leva in roseo fulgor la cattedrale
Le mille guglie bianche e I santi d’oro,
Osannando irraggiata: intorno, I coro
Bruno de’ falchi agita I gridi e l’ale.

Tal, poi ch’amor co ‘l dolce riso via
Rase le nubi che gravårmi tanto
Si rileva nel sol l’anima mia,

E molteplice a lei sorride il santo
Ideal de la vita: è un’ armonia
Ogni pensiero, ed ogni senso un canto.

Sunlight and Love (Translation: G. L. Bickerseth )

Fleecy and white the clouds are westward streaming;
On mart and street, as the dank mist retires,
Greet the vast world, with human labour teeming.

All roe-red stands the great cathedral, seeming
To shout hosannas with its thousand spires
And saints of gold: while the brown-feathered choirs
Of wheeling falcons swoop around it screaming.

E’en so, when love’s sweet smile hath set me free
From the dark clouds that weighed in on me so long,
My soul expands and suns itself: I see.

Life’s great ideal with its radiant throng
Of blessings smile at me: a harmony
In every thought, and every sense a song

- Giosue Carducci (1835-1907)

In a review of the premiere, Leonard Peyton wrote in The Musical Times:

“Among the extra-ordinary concerts of the month, I must not omit to mention one given at Philharmonic Hall in which a new and noteable composition by Giacomo Setaccioli had its baptism. Signor Setaccioli is the director of the Philharmonic Society, and his new work, which bears the opus No. 31, is a Sonata in Eb Major for clarinet and pianoforte. The clarinet as a solo instrument is not much in vogue to-day, and Setaccioli has followed the lead of Strauss in trying to restore it to its place of honour. The new work, in three movements, had a great success, and has been favourably received by all the critics, who recognize in Signor Setaccioli one of the foremost musicians that Rome has produced.” – Leonard Peyton, The Musical Times, April 1, 1921



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