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Sonata for violin and piano no. 1 in D minor op. 75

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Allegro agitato. Adagio – Allegretto moderato. Allegro molto.

When Saint-Saëns composed his Sonata for Violin and Piano no.1, in 1885, he had already written several works for these two instruments. He titled this piece “no 1”, however, because it was far more ambitious in scope. Premiered by the composer and its dedicatee, the Belgian violinist, Martin-Pierre Marsick (1847-1924), it was an immediate resounding success: “Its day of glory has come immediately. All violinists will be fighting over it throughout the world,” Saint-Saëns told his publisher, Jacques Durand. Its novel formal structure consists of two movements split into two linked sections, a structure that he had already adopted for his fourth Piano Concerto(1875) and was to use again in his Third Symphonywith organ (1886). The two instruments are perfectly balanced in this sonata, as are the moods. The melancholy agitation of the opening movement dies down with the appearance of a second, more peaceful theme. Although Proust may have drawn his inspiration for “Vinteuil’s sonata” from several works, the writer himself admitted that the “little phrase” refers to this melody. The sinuous, elegant Adagio is characterised by an expressive power that is totally lacking in pathos. With its dance-like rhythms, the Allegretto moderato is actually a scherzo. It is full of staccato writing which is interrupted in the central section by a cantabile melodic line in the violin with an arpeggio piano accompaniment. In the last part of the sonata, passages underpinned by a virtuoso perpetual motion theme are alternated with some intensely lyrical sections which reintroduce the second theme of the Allegro agitato.


publication date : 25/09/23

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