Arvo Pärt. Pilgrim’s SongNovember 10, 2020
Sigrid Kuulmann. Works for Solo ViolinNovember 10, 2020
Eduard Tubin. Works for Violin and Piano. Vol 1
WORKS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO VOL I
Sigrid Kuulmann, viiul
Marko Martin, klaver
Sigrid Kuulmann & Marko Martin
|Capriccio No 1, ETW 50
|Sonata No 2 for Violin and Piano, ETW 56
|III Allegro risoluto
|Sonata for Solo Violin, ETW 57
|Ballade for Violin and Piano, ETW 52
|Suite on Estonian Dance Tunes, ETW 53
|I Old Waltz
|II Village Shepherd’s Horn Song
|III Zither Player
|IV Goat-horn Song
Performed by: Sigrid Kuulmann (violin) & Marko Martin (piano)
Recorded by Estonian Broadcasting Corporation 2003–2009
Engineered by Maido Maadik / ERR
Liner notes by Vardo Rumessen
Booklet edited by Inna Kivi, Sigrid Kuulmann and Tiina Jokinen
Design by Regina Kari, Mart Kivisild
Co-produced by Peeter Vähi
Special thanks: Eduard Tubin Society, Association of Estonian Professional Musicians, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), Pille Lill Music Fund
© Sigrid Kuulmann
Although Eduard Tubin (1905–1982) is well known as a fine symphonist, he also wrote a considerable amount of chamber music. Among his chamber works, compositions for the violin occupy a significant place: Tubin himself played the instrument in his youth and the violin remained his favourite instrument throughout his life. In the context of Estonian violin music, Tubin composed many of the most outstanding works, including 2 violin concertos, 2 violin sonatas with piano, Sonata for Solo Violin and Suite on Estonian Dance Tunes, as well as a number of shorter pieces.
Capriccio No 1 for Violin and Piano, ETW 50, composed in 1937 and slightly revised in 1971, is a brilliant and effective piece in which we find the characteristic tarantella rhythm distinctive of Tubin’s earlier period. Capriccio No 1 was first performed by Evald Turgan and Olav Roots on 4th March 1938 in a concert broadcast on the Estonian Radio. Since the WW II, this technically very demanding piece has been played by many Estonian violinists and has become one of the most frequently performed of Tubin’s works. The later Capriccio No 2 dates from 1945.
Sonata No 2 for Violin and Piano, ETW 56. After writing his 1st Violin Sonata, in 1941 Tubin began work on his second. At that time it never got beyond the stage of sketches. Having emigrated to Stockholm, Tubin started to compose a cello sonata based on the remaining material, but this also remained unfinished. In 1948 he resumed work on his Second Violin Sonata, which he finished on 27th January 1949. The sonata was first performed by Zelia Aumere and Olav Roots at the Stockholm chamber music union’s Fylkingen concert in the Concert Hall’s small hall on 2nd April 1949. Even though in the opinion of many critics this performance was something of a disappointment, it turned out to be one of the most remarkable Estonian violin sonatas, and has been performed by many Estonian violinists, including Hubert Aumere, Carmen Prii, Vladimir Alumäe, Mati Kärmas, Arvo Leibur, Ulrika Kristjan and Urmas Vulp, as well as foreign violinists such as Ivan Romanenko and Håkan Sensoy.
The sonata consists of three movements. The 1st movement opens with the main theme, presented by the violin; this is followed by a new theme on the piano, which takes on an aggressive character. A subsidiary theme (the “Northern Lights” theme) is then heard in the violin’s upper register; this does not dominate, but slowly dies away, only to reappear at the end of the development. In the reprise, where the subsidiary theme is omitted, the main theme appears with a march like rhythm. In the coda, the piano theme from the first part of the movement takes on a new character as it metamorphoses into a flickering, shimmering figure which dies away as the movement reaches its close. The 2nd movement begins with a simple, demure theme played in unison. The archaic second theme, introduced by the violin in fourths, at first appears self-engrossed but subsequently culminates in the lightning-like flashes of the piano interlude. The 2nd movement ends with the quiet and thoughtful second theme against a background of “nightly glowing” piano passages.
In the aggressive 3rd movement, the principal theme with its dance-like character is played against a background of “flashing” rhythms, rather in the manner of some kind of “Dance of the Northern Lights”. The second theme follows the 2nd movement’s second theme almost exactly, although it assumes a slightly calmer, more restrained character. In the development, the main theme is given a rather mysterious character by the piano, after which it is taken over by the violin. In the middle of the development there is a surprising appearance of the accompaniment from the development of the 1st movement, which gives rise to a new, more energetic sense of movement. In the reprise the battle between the two themes picks up even more momentum, conquering everything else, until it culminates in an exalted repetition of the “Dance of the Northern Lights” at the end.
The final movement is characterised predominantly by its non-stop, pulsating rhythmic motion, which does not let up for a moment but moves with dizzying speed to the final chords.
Tubin’s 2nd Violin Sonata turned out to be a composition of the utmost importance for the composer, preparing the way for his most important pieces – the 2nd Piano Sonata (Northern Lights Sonata) and the 6th Symphony. In all these pieces, where we meet the so-called “Northern Lights” patterns, common traits are to be found which become apparent in terms of their structural characteristics and particular means of expression. Tubin’s 2nd Violin Sonata is without doubt the most remarkable of Estonian works in the genre, as well as one of the most technically demanding.
Tubin’s Sonata for Solo Violin, ETW 57, written in 1962, is one of his most complex, densely textured violin pieces. One of the composer’s most technically demanding violin works, it makes maximum use of the instrument’s wide range of different sounds and timbres. As a result, Tubin is able to turn simple, laconically themed material into a great composition imbued with dramatic tension in which a deceptively improvisatory character is allied to a firm inner logic.
The sonata was premiered at the Swedish chamber music union Samtida Musik concert in Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art on 11th March 1963, where it was performed by Bronislaw Eichenholz. This sonata can without doubt be considered as one of the most remarkable examples of the genre and, in terms of both musical expression and technical craftsmanship, is comparable to Bartók’s Solo Sonata.
Tubin’s Ballade for Violin and Piano, ETW 52 was composed in 1939 and orchestrated in the same year. The premiere of the version with piano accompaniment took place on 2nd December 1939 at the Vanemuine Concert Hall in Tartu, where it was performed by Evald Turgan and Leo Tauts; the version for violin and orchestra was subsequently premiered by Rudolf Palm under the baton of Olav Roots in an Estonian Radio broadcast on 9th April 1940.
The Ballade is the first piece Tubin composed for violin and orchestra. However, the arrangement with piano accompaniment could be considered the more successful version, highlighting, as it does, the symphonic effect of the development of the piece, in which every successive phrase and section adds more tension until the music reaches its culmination followed by a solo violin cadenza.
As in most of Tubin’s works, the Ballade draws on one main theme that is accompanied by even crotchets (quarter notes). Such regular, step-like movement was to prove quite a distinctive feature of Tubin’s music, and acquired special expressive force in the funeral march of his second symphony. The symphony’s subtitle, Legendary, points to the influence of historical legends, and this can also be felt in the Ballade for violin which was composed two years later. As in the symphony, a number of exclamatory motifs which grow out of the statements of the main theme serve to add tension to the calm theme in the bass. We also hear motifs derived from the main theme in the piano part, against which the violin plays rapid figurations. In the reprise the main theme appears in an altered form; piano and violin together embrace a greater and greater field of sound until the climax, which is followed by a short violin cadenza. During the closing section we hear the same theme as a distant recollection that fades gently away into the distance.
Suite on Estonian Dance Tunes for Violin and Piano, ETW 53. Eduard Tubin’s works, with their crisp, northerly expression, are profoundly national in character. Though he often makes use of Estonian folk tunes in his music, however, the national character that emerges in many of his works owes less to direct quotation of such melodies than to a more general ethno-psychological form of expression. A new impetus in this direction came in 1938 when Tubin visited Budapest, where he studied the music of Zoltan Kodály and Béla Bartók. Kodály recommended that Tubin should pay more attention to using folk melodies. As a result of his Hungarian experience, in 1938 Tubin wrote a Suite on Estonian Dances for symphony orchestra.
His research into the Estonian Folklore Archives left him profoundly impressed by the unique character of Estonian folk music, and he made use of this in the composition of the ballet Kratt which is based on the mythology of folklore. His Sinfonietta on Estonian Motifs, composed in 1940, was also based, as the name suggests, on Estonian motifs. Folk tunes played an important part in Tubin’s musical development and contributed towards forming his musical character. However, the use of folk music was not an end in itself for Tubin, but a necessary experience. His work with folk music was a creative laboratory for him as he strove to forge a national style, which he wrote about in the following terms: “By nationalist music, I understand musical works that express the temperament of the nation, its characteristic rhythms, old rituals and sagas, as well as its patriotism, its self-awareness; these are expressed by a composer who himself lives through the same elements – experiences, hears and understands them – but nevertheless remains original, so that another composer of the same nationality can express the same elements with an utterly different tone”.
In the summer of 1943, in the brief space of three weeks, Tubin composed his Suite on Estonian Dance Tunes for violin and piano. Here Tubin used the folk tunes that he had copied from the Estonian Folklore Archives when composing the ballet Kratt. A distinctive feature of the Suite is the manner in which the composer combines different folk tunes contrapuntally. In the 1st movement, Old Waltz, for example, he uses two different tunes, combining them in counterpoint; and in the 2nd movement, Village Shepherd’s Horn Song, as many as three different tunes are used and, following a prolonged climax over a pedal point, these are again contrapuntally combined to achieve a distinctive kind of dynamic development. In the 3rd movement, Zither Player, the composer imitates the sound of the Estonian zither in the piano part. Here two different folk tunes are used alternately. The fourth movement, Goat-horn Song, is the most extensive, and is based on three different tunes, the last of which is probably derived from folk melody by the composer himself. The movement, with its wonderful symphonic development, closes with a threefold statement of material from the introduction of the first movement, thus framing the whole cycle.
Tubin’s Suite on Estonian Dance Tunes is one of the most successful of all pieces based on folk tunes, fascinating the listener with its stimulating musical figures and rich fantasy. The premiere of the Suite took place on 2nd October 1943 at the Vanemuine concert hall in Tartu, where it was performed by Evald Turgan and Jüri Mandre. Subsequently it found its way into the repertoire of many Estonian violinists. The manuscript of the work remained in Estonia when the composer escaped the country. When the publisher Körling proposed publishing the piece in 1952, all Tubin’s connections with Estonia had been lost. He rewrote the first three movements from memory, and these were published in Sweden in 1952. After re-establishing his connection with Estonia, Tubin procured a copy of the fourth movement, and in 1974 he rearranged the whole work for violin and orchestra. In this arrangement the Suite was first performed on 22nd September 1975 on Swedish Radio, with the violinist Alfred Pisuke and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kjell Ingebretsen.
Download: Duo Sigrid Kuulmann & Marko Martin, 2012, at Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, photo by Kaupo Kikkas, colour, RGB, 300 dpi, jpg, 6.2 MB
Sigrid Kuulmann started her violin studies at the age of seven. She studied at the Estonian Academy of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and at Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf. Her teachers include Tiiu Peäske, Yfrah Neaman and Rosa Fain, a former pupil of David Oistrakh. She has taken part in masterclasses with Igor Bezrodny, Michaela Martin and Dmitry Sitkovetsky.
Sigrid Kuulmann is a laureate of Heino Eller International Violin Competition in Tallinn and is gaining further accolades for her performances of Estonian music, especially in Eduard Tubin’s works.
She Estonia-premiered Partita by Lutoslawski, Sequenza VIII by Berio, Violin Concerto No 2 by Virkhaus. She has performed as a soloist with conductors Neeme Järvi, Andres Mustonen, Andrei Chistyakov, Gregory Rose, Nicholas Smith etc, and given recitals in England, Germany, Scandinavia and Estonia. Sigrid Kuulmann has been broadcasted and recorded by Estonian Radio and TV.
Marko Martin is clearly a pianist to watch. Laureate of the 2000 Esther Honens International Piano Competition and prize winner at the 1998 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, Marko is gaining a reputation for his inspired balance between energy and lyricism, especially in the works of Brahms, Schubert and Liszt. He is equally admired for his interpretation of music of the 20th century.
Martin studied at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre with Prof Peep Lassmann and went on to work with Prof Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has taken part in numerous masterclasses, including Leon Fleisher, Dmitri Bashkirov, Murray Perahia and Paul Badura-Skoda.
Marko Martin has performed with Philharmonia Orchestra London, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. He has given recitals at Barbican Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Musikhalle in Hamburg, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. His recordings include Schubert and Liszt for Abbas Records (1998) and Liszt for Arktos (2002).
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