Julius Röntgen: Sonate in A minor for Solo Piano
The first movement, Allegro molto e passionate, seems to be in a rather unconventional style for Röntgen. The composer emphasizes texture over melodic and harmonic inventiveness, and creates a real tour-de-force in the first movement. The work opens in the tonic key of A Minor with a brooding and undulating motif that Röntgen repeats before dealing a sudden dynamic explosion. The second movement is comprised of a set of variations based on what the composer terms an “Old Dutch” theme (Alt Hollandisch). After reaching a thunderous climax in Variation V, the movement gradually dissipates through expansively rolled chords to a tranquil close. The third movement, a short Tempo di Menuetto in the key of G Minor, is based on a seven-bar folk theme. The Finale embodies a churning flow and energy similar that that found in the final movement of Chopin’s Sonata No.3 in B Minor, Op.58. A long, lyrical second theme enters followed by a return of the first. An imitative section enters that builds into a massive restatement of the main theme. Eventually, Röntgen combines the two themes in a triumphant coda before the work comes to a dark and dramatic end with a broad statement of the main theme of first movement. 2017 Mark Anderson
The Sonata in A minor was never published and exists only in a copyist’s hand. As a companion to his recording project Mark Anderson has created a modern edition of the Sonata, which is available from Nimbus Publishing.
The 1898 Sonata in A minor was never published and exists not in Röntgen’s but a copyist’s hand. Fortunately for inquisitive musicians, Mark Anderson has created, as the notes relate, a modern edition of the Sonata which is available via Nimbus Publishing. This is a four-movement work, opening with tempestuous intensity, cast adrift in a stormy landscape, or maybe seascape as the music evokes rolling waves of sound. Rolled chords introduce the solemn theme and variations second movement, an antique-sounding bardic quality suffusing the musical paragraphs. Whether deft or grand, this is another example of Rontgen’s almost remorseless self-confidence, not least in the fugato-sounding lines or the beautiful lyricism embedded in the music. After a brisk Minuet the finale seems to coalesce the twin influences of Chopin and Brahms. An uneven work it may be, but it is surely too packed full of interesting moments to have been overlooked for so long. It helps to have so idiomatic a performer as Anderson on hand.