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Hockh: Violin Sonatas

By Aleksandra Rupocinska

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By Aleksandra Rupocinska, Jaroslaw Thiel, and Mikolaj Zgolka. By Carl Hockh. Classical. Listening CD. Naxos #ACD255. Published by Naxos (NX.ACD255).

Item Number: NX.ACD255

Carl Hockh is undoubtedly an exceptional figure. Douglas A. Lee puts the composer in line with Johann Georg Pisendel, Franz Benda and Leopold Mozart, thus recognizing Hockh as one of the founders of the violin school in the German-speaking area. The order in which the works on this album are arranged is not a coincidence - it partly refers (where possible) to the tonal relationships. Most interesting is the relationship between the first and the last sonata. Both works in the key of D major are almost identical in their texture. The first movements show an unusual similarity, although the final Sonata in D major has many more ornaments. The second movements remain almost identical, while the third movements have a common opening motif, but their developments and subsequent virtuoso performances evolve in completely different directions. These two works flanking the whole album are an interesting example of Carl Hockh's development of form and composing inventiveness. A characteristic feature of all the works on this album is the enormous wealth of virtuoso means of expression. Hockh is much more demanding on the performer than his contemporaries. The use of dichords, entry to the eleventh position, unusually fast arpeggios, and even the use of tenths in dichords - these are but a few examples of the challenges facing the violinist. The melodics, harmony and motifs of Hockh's works show distinctive features of the galant style. Since the exact dates of the sonatas cannot be determined - all materials were written by the hand of another copyist or published at a later date - their only chronological determinant is their stylistic characteristics. Despite some idiomatic treatment of the violin texture, the means used are often quite bold and demanding. Sudden jumps from the first to the sixth position, placing the work in the specific key of E major, not easy for the violin, are examples of breaking the instrumental convention and seeking new performance and sound possibilities. All these elements, in combination with the lyricism of the slow movements, allow us to define the work of the concertmaster from Zerbst as Pre-Romantic.

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