Hans Sitt: Viola and Piano Works - Alicia Calabuig, Jorge Blasco
Eudora Records EUD-SACD-2305
Classical - Chamber
Albumblätter, Op. 39
3 Fantasiestücke, Op. 58
Romance, Op. 72
3 Morceaux, Op. 75
3 Stücke, Op. 102: I. Romanze
Gavotte and Mazurka, Op. 132
Alicia Calabuig (viola)
Jorge Blasco (piano)
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Review by Adrian Quanjer - September 15, 2023
Schumann wrote little for piano and alto. However, he did write for piano and a ‘replaceable’ solo instrument that could be an alto. Regrettably, pieces like, for instance, Fantasiestücke Op. 73 (piano and clarinet) and Fantasiestücke Op. 88 (piano and cello) have seldom -and then again only partly- been recorded in a version for alto. With this new Eudora Records release, Alicia Calabuig (viola) and Jorge Blasco (piano) fill the gap coming to the rescue of the many lovers of what some affectionately call the ‘autumn violin’ with a whole range of works written by a practically unknown Bohemian composer, Hans Sitt, in a style that emulates the best Schumann could have offered in this genre.
Why did Sitt land in the world of obscure composers? More than once, a composer is deliberately sidelined by modernists who feel that composing needs a complete facelift; breaking away from all that was. It happened to the Dutch composer Hans Henkemans, whose compositions and public performances were banned by a group of self-proclaimed renovators. Thanks to some broader-minded musicians (and TRPTK: Eclipse, Vol. 2 - Spee), his rehabilitation has now begun.
High time, therefore, that other ’erased’ composers, like Hans Sitt, who had been pushed aside by Richard Wagner and his followers for his hanging on to the Brahmsian tradition, will get the same treatment. Let’s start right here by having another look at Sitt’s contribution to the world of classical music.
David Santacecilia’s liner notes provide much-needed detail. It may furthermore be noted that, next to his creative chamber music activities, Sitt wrote concertante works for piano, violin and cello, as well as a series of pedagogical pieces some of which are still in use in some educational quarters. (Sitt was Professor of Violin at the Leipzig Conservatory).
Should there still be any doubt about Hans Sitt being a competent composer, listen to his orchestration of Grieg’s Norwegian Dances Op. 35. Real craftsmanship ( Grieg: Norwegian Dances, Symphonic Dances, Lyric Suite - Ruud)
Both Alicia and Jorge, members of the Spanish Tetraktys Ensemble (not to be mixed up with an ensemble by the same name founded in 1988 in Besançon, France, or any other Tetraktys formation), give a wonderfully polished performance of Sitt’s miniatures that will not fail to enchant discerned chamber music lovers. From a compositional point of view, they are melodious, cleverly coloured, and most of all pleasing to the ear. The sort of music that would do very well in a ‘salon’ of connoisseurs. But Alicia and Jorge's generous reading will charm a wider audience than just the happy few.
All things considered, we have here a bucket full of lovely music that not only should whet your appetite for more of Sitt’s Chamber music (Piano Trios Op. 63), but possibly also a hi-res recording of one of the two cello and three violin concerti (if my count is correct). Some of it can be listened to on YouTube. For now, however, I can recommend this latest release as a perfect companion for the Autumn blues in the Northern Hemisphere, alternatively a sunny Spring partner for those elsewhere.
Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.
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