Wilfried Kazuki Hedenborg / Bruno Canino

Czerny: Three Sonatinas for Pianoforte & Violin

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Many and perhaps most people who have tried to play a piano are familiar with the name of Carl Czerny, but little of his music beyond his ubiquitous exercises is ever heard. This Japanese release explores his virtually unknown music for violin and piano, or, as the original titles have it, "pianoforte and violin." Booklet notes are in Japanese and English, and unlike with other Camerata releases they appear to offer much of the same text in both languages. Annotator Otto Biba valiantly tries to rescue Czerny from obscurity and connect him to the currents of the 1830s, when most of this music was published, but the instrument terminology is a clue to how old-fashioned Czerny's music was by that time. The stylistic referent for the three sonatinas (Czerny himself called them sonatas, but the publisher Diabelli's decision to downsize them was correct) on the first disc is Mozart, and they make simple sonata forms out of pleasant but not very distinctively carved tunes. The lengthy Variations for pianoforte and violin, Op. 1, that opens the second disc is an early work of Czerny, and after hearing that on top of the three sonatinas you may be desperate to hear something other than tonic, dominant, and subdominant. The most interesting pieces are the Polonaise brillante in A major, Op. 314, and L'Espagnole for violin and piano in A major, Op. 305, as foreshadowings, in vague outline, of the national-styled music to come later in the century. Czerny wrote and published a great deal of music, so students of the Viennese scene during and after Schubert's time will find this a valuable release. The performances by Austrian violinist Wilfried Kazuki Hedenborg and veteran pianist Bruno Canino are delicate and elegant, and the studio recording is ideal. The general listener, however, may find parts of the program tough going.

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