About this Recording
8.225304 - KLEBE: Violin Sonatas / Capriccio for Solo Violin, Op. 128 / Fantasia Incisiana, Op. 137
English  German 

Giselher Klebe (b. 1925)
Music for Violin

Giselher Klebe was born in Mannheim in 1925 and in 1940 entered the Berlin Conservatory with a scholarship, studying the violin, viola and music history, and composition with Kurt von Wolfurt. He resumed his studies after the war as a pupil of Josef Rufer at the newly founded Berlin International Music Institute, and, privately, with Boris Blacher. His Divertimento, Op. 1/2, for piano, had its first performance in 1947, the year of his first meeting with the composer Wolfgang Fortner, whom he succeeded ten years later as senior lecturer in composition and music theory at the Detmold North-West German Music Academy. He became a professor at the Academy in 1962. By this time he had established himself as a composer, with works performed at Darmstadt and at Donaueschingen and notable success in 1950 with his orchestral Zwitschermaschine, described as a musical metamorphosis for full orchestra and inspired by Paul Klee’s The Twittering Machine. He won various awards and became one of the most important contemporary composers of opera in Germany, with a series of works, first with his own libretti and then with texts by his wife Lore Klebe, generally based on existing literary works. Over the years he has won great distinction, with further prizewinning compositions and public honours. In 1981 he became director of the music section of the Berlin Academy of Arts, of which he served as president from 1986 until 1989.

Klebe’s Sonata No. 1, Op. 8, for solo violin, was written in the summer of 1950 in Berlin-Frohnau, and dedicated, in gratitude, to Hans Werner Henze, who had recommended his orchestral piece The Twittering Machine to the then director of the Donaueschingen Festival, Heinrich Strobel. It was performed at the festival in the same year by the South-West Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hans Rosbaud, a performance that brought Klebe’s international breakthrough. The Sonata marks the first stages of development of his musical language. Both movements are linked by rhythmic-formal structures. Klebe’s belief in the unifying function of melody is a continuing feature of his work.

Sonata No. 1, Op. 14, for violin and piano, was written in autumn 1952 and dedicated to the Alsatian poet René Schickele (1883-1941), with whose work Klebe at the time had particular affinity. The three short movements are played without a break, the ostinato motif groups and development of the first movement undergoing intensive changes in the second, with its new patterns, taking the form of several melodic arch forms in the third.

Dedicated to his wife, Klebe’s Sonata No. 2, Op. 20, for solo violin, was commissioned by Darmstadt for the Tenth International Vacation Courses for New Music in 1955. It was written between January and March in that year, under the strong influence of Haydn’s Symphony No. 92 in G major, ‘Oxford’. The sonata has three movements. The first of these starts with an idea that is fundamental to the structure of the sonata. Its first pattern, double stops marked piano and narrowly spaced intervals, and the second, single-line crescendo and decrescendo, with widely spaced intervals, are continuously interrelated. Hence comes the proportional structure that is basic to all sonatas. From this basis all new ideas are strictly interwoven with the fundamental idea. The first movement builds up the intervallic, musical, dynamic and rhythmic elements. The second movement is quieter, with a rapid change and intensive development of several contrasting idea groups. The third movement strengthens the calmer tendency and ends by bringing together the melodic complexes of the sonata with increasing simplicity.

Klebe wrote his Sonata No. 2, Op. 66, for violin and piano, in May and June 1972. He originally gave it the title of Sonata on Boris Blacher, dedicating it to Blacher on the latter’s 75th birthday, using the notes derived from his name, B - E flat (Es) - B - A - C - B natural (H) - E, as the introductory notes of the composition. In the years from 1946 to 1951 Boris Blacher (1903-1975) had been the definitive teacher for Klebe’s musical development. In the violin part he wrote with the playing technique of Blacher’s then very young son in mind. The three movements of the sonata follow the implicit classical pattern. The first movement is an exposition of the thematic ideas, the second reveals darker aspects of these ideas, and the third finally forms the melody at the centre of the whole sonata.

Capriccio ‘Vor dem Gewitter’, Op. 128, came about as the result of Klebe’s desire to write a solo violin capriccio for his friend Eckhard Fischer. Klebe was sitting in the garden of his daughter Sonja, who lives in the Alpine Foreland, and conceived the principal part of this work as a thunder-storm arose. The two movements characterize the event, distant lightning, the air is oppressive, the first gusts of wind sweep in, it becomes ever darker, there is thunder and lightning in the distance, the rain grows heavy, and the storm is there.

Klebe’s Fantasia Incisiana, Op. 137, for violin and piano, has the Italian dedication ‘Questa Fantasia è composta e dedicata per tutti gli uomini scortandomi dolce fuori l’avvilimento tenebroso’. The name Incisiana is taken from Eckhard Fischer’s vineyard, Incisa Scapaccino, in Piedmont, where the private performance of the fourth movement provided the starting-point, and where the initial sketches of the first movement were made. The Fantasy is dedicated to all those who helped the composer through the period of depression he underwent on the death of his wife Lore, after sixty years together. The first movement presents a clear melodic shape, peaceful in character; the second brings odd ideas and memories, the third an intensive interchange of ideas, the fourth a tribute to his wife, herself an enthusiastic violinist, the fifth a counterpart of the third, and the sixth related to the fourth.

Based on notes by the composer
English version by Keith Anderson


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