ERWIN SCHULHOFF
Complete music for Violin and Piano

Suite for Violin and Piano WV18

Sonata in D minor - M9 - Op.9
1. Präludium: Stürmisch
2. Gavotte: Mäßig
3. Menuetto
4. Walzer
5. Scherzo

Sonata nº1 for Violin and Piano WV24
6. Wuchtig
7. Ruhig
8. Scherzo: Bewegt
9. Rondo: Nicht zu schnell

Sonata for Solo Violin WV83
10. Allegro con fuoco
11. Andante sostenuto
12. Scherzo: Allegretto grazioso
13. Allegro risoluto

Sonata nº2 for Violin and Piano WV91
14. Allegro impetuoso
15. Andante
16. Burlesca: Allegretto
17. Allegro risoluto

 

Fanfare Magazine, Jerry Dubins

“Here the four works are performed by Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos, two outstanding Portuguese musicians I’ve encountered before, once in 36:1 on a Centaur recording of Chausson’s Concert for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet, and then again in 39:1 on a two-disc Brilliant set of works for violin and piano by Szymanowski.
I have the Hyperion CD with Becker-Bender and Becker, and while it is very, very good, Monteiro and Santos dig deeper into Schulhoff’s iconoclastic and idiosyncratic musical universe and produce results that are more atmospheric in slow movements and more outré in fast movements, which, I think, is what Schulhoff was aiming for. Much of his music, after all, was intended to shock and upset the status quo of the day.
In an A-B comparison between the two recordings, Becker-Bender and Becker come across as more refined, civilized, and urbane, but civility and urbanity are not what Schulhoff is about. Monteiro and Santos project a sense of animalistic primitivism that heightens our awareness of danger and puts us on the alert to the predator about to spring. Simply stated, Monteiro and Santos are riskier and therefore more exciting.
In the end, I think it’s fair to say that Schulhoff is an acquired taste, one which, if you ever acquire it at all, is apt to develop slowly. Monteiro and Santos, however, succeed in making the composer’s music as palatable as have any other players I’ve heard. Their Schulhoff release may thus be recommended as a good place to whet your palate”.

 

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Fanfare Magazine, Colin Clarke

“Any disc that furthers the cause of the phenomenal Czech-born composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) is incredibly welcome. This release on Brilliant Classics presents the complete music for violin and piano presents two Portuguese musicians in a good if not exceptional recording, well presented with copious booklet notes by Ana Carvalho. The four pieces are given in their documentation with their “WV” numbers: WV 24, 91, 18 and 83 in head-note order.
The principal competition is a recent disc on MSR by Esa Gogichashvili and Kae Hosoda-Ayer (reviewed by James North in Fanfare 39:4) and Tanja Becker-Bender and Markus Becker on Hyperion (also Mr. North, Fanfare 34:6). All three discs present exactly the same program. The Brilliant release enters at a lower price point, which may swing it for some; Although not listed as available at archivmusic.com, there was a disc on Gramola of these works from 2013 (David Delgado and Stefan Schmidt, 98982) and a 1994 Supraphon disc with Ivan Ženatý and Josef Hála (112168), the latter of which which adds a piece entitled just “Melody.”
Bruno Monteiro plays with great character (and very true tuning) in the Suite for violin and piano, given usually as “op. 1” but on the present release listed as “WV18”. Monteiro’s sound is remarkably pure in its higher reaches.
The two violin sonatas open out the discography for the assiduous collector (that is, those not limited by what is “officially” still available) with a 1977 Supraphon recording, presumably LP only (1 11 2149); an early BIS recording by Oleh Krysa and Tatiana Tchekina (679) and on the small label Obligat (Musikproduktion München) Florian Sonnleitner and Hildegard Stenda (01.222) offer single sonatas. The First Sonata (WV24, more generally known as op. 7) dates from 1913 and is markedly more advanced than the Suite in musical language. As the booklet notes rightly point out, there is a clear Debussy influence in the first movement, contrasted at times with characteristic Schulhoff spikiness; Monteiro and Santos are remarkably adept in moving between the two fields. Monteiro’s violin sings the cantabile of the slow movement (“Ruhig”) and, while one might wish for more bass presence from the piano, Santos offers fine support. By far the briefest movement, the Scherzo flickers before the Rondo finale offers up its staccato wit.
Written in 1927, four years after Schulhoff’s return to Prague, the Sonata for Solo Violin references traditional Czech folk music. Its opening Allegro con fuoco seems also to be cut from the same cloth as Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale in its carefree demeanour; Schulhoff’s recurring returns to repeated open fifths enhances the outdoorsy feel. It is superbly, and decidedly rustically, played by Monteiro (who even adds a small ornament on one sixteenth note not in the printed score.) The second movement, Andante cantabile, includes such markings as “sonoro,” “con passione” and passionato molto,” which gives some ideas as to its expressive levels. The final ascent to a pppp harmonic is perfectly managed. The Scherzo is a nicely judged Allegretto grazioso, holding a whole host of delights and is characterfully despatched by Monteiro; the finale, making the clearest references to folk music emerges as an imposing piece.
Finally, the Second Violin Sonata, composed in November 1927. The first movement covers a wide territory, the open fifths of the solo sonata return here, bolstered though by dissonance piano chords. The music here is full of surprising twists and turns, expertly negotiated by both players (Santos’ finger strength is particularly impressive in the later parts of the movement.) There is even a hint of a solo cadenza before the end. The slow movement (Andante) begins with, essentially, muted tolling bells on the piano over which the violin sings a dirge-like lament. The whole movement is basically one long line for the soloist, and Monteiro maintains the tension throughout. A “Burlesca” takes us to a spikier side of Schulhoff, and there is a raw side to Monteiro’s G-string that is most appealing. The close of the movement is incredibly imaginative, and perfectly judged here. The finale’s demands (and there are many, on both players individually and in terms of ensemble) are well handled, the excitement at the close palpable.
A fascinating and rewarding issue. It is a cause for celebration that such competition in this repertoire is out there, but there is no doubting the firm belief in this music that exudes from Monteiro and Santos’ performances”.

 

Fanfare Magazine, David DeBoor Canfield

“The violin playing of Bruno Monteiro is quite respectable. I did enjoy this disc, and the solid collaborative effort of pianist João Paulo Santos, and can accordingly recommend this CD as worthy of investigation by those interested in under-explored repertory”.

 

Jornal de Letras, Maria Augusta Gonçalves

"Here, once more, is very clear the artistry of both musicians: virtuoso playing, technical command, the profound knowledge of the works and their time, from the sophisticated writing and it´s demands. From each piece and interpretation, there are moments that go beyond the simple hearing: the violin line, in the "Gavotte" of the Suite, the freedon of the "Waltzer", the lyrism of the First Sonata, the power of the piano in the Allegro Final, the drama of the 2nd Sonata and the high demands of the Solo Sonata.To this day, not many musicians and labels took the chance of recording the complete music for violin and piano by Schulhoff. There is the Viennese Gramola (David Delgado and Stefan Schmidt), the American MSR (Eka Gogichashvili and Kae Hosoda-Ayer), the UK based Hyperion (Becker-Bender and Markus Becker).
Listening to the version of Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos, there are no reservations. These artists are the first choise right away amoung the existing versions. They offer outstanding readings where we can hear the richness and power of seduction”.

 

The Rehearsal Studio, Stephen Smoliar

“… The Brilliant production team has done well to provide us with this sincerely refreshing account of this particular facet of Schulhoff’s repertoire”.

 

Classical Music Sentinel, Jean-Yves Duperron

“Violinist Bruno Monteiro has a way of dramatically changing the tonal color of his instrument, sometimes note by note, based on the music's character at any given moment. A technique that his quite captivating and effective. And particularly effective for example in the post-Romantic Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano WV24 from 1913. The first two movements, in my opinion, sound very much as if they could have been composed by Alexander Scriabin during the final stages of his life. Strongly passionate and constantly expanding his harmonic reach. Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) wrote this Sonata in such a way where Bruno Monteiro and pianist Joao Paulo Santos can't help but feed off each other's energy, be it bright or dark. The same could be said about the foreboding slow movement of the 1927 Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano WV91 in which grim and sullen expressiveness is the order of the day. As a matter of fact most of Schulhoff's music is "hard", and by that I don't mean difficult, but rather stern and severe. But Bruno Monteiro's eloquent playing cuts through its tough exterior and reveals the earnest intensity burning at its core”.

 

The Art Music Lounge, Lynn René Bayley

“…Violinist Monteiro possesses a fine tone and technique… Monteiro does not hold back; he attacks this music with relish, fully understanding its idiom and purpose. All in all, a fascinating glimpse of a different side of Schulhoff. In the end, I wasn’t so sure how I really felt about this music in toto; yes, it was interesting, but was it substantive enough to warrant repeated listening? That’s a question each listener has to answer for him or herself. I can only tell you my reaction; I can’t predict yours; but it’s certainly music worth hearing at least once”.

 

Classical Candor, John J. Puccio

Classical Candor Favourite Recordings 2016

“In an earlier review of Monteiro and Santos performing the music of Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca, I said of them that they play "so affectionately, so enchantingly, I look forward to hearing them again." Now, I've gotten that chance, and I am no less impressed.
The program contains four works: one suite for violin and piano, two sonatas for violin and piano, and one sonata for solo violin. The thing you have to remember, though, is that Schulhoff began composing at about the time the modern era of music began, and while he is clearly avant-garde, innovative, and experimental for his day, he also has one foot firmly planted in the melodies and harmonies of the older Romantic generation. So his music is a kind of fascinating amalgam of the old and the new.
Anyway, Monteiro has arranged the order of the program in chronological order, starting with the five-movement suite, dating from 1911. It has a generally positive and happy outlook, with the violinist delighting in its almost-classical demeanor. Monteiro's tone is always clean, golden, and vibrant, qualities he maintains throughout the program. The interior minuet and waltz segments appear most adventurous, yet they never become objectionable in their eccentricities. The final movement ends the piece with something originally titled "Dance of the Little Devils," and it's charming in its impish delights, at least the way Monteiro and Santos play it.
The next three items are more overtly "modern," being somewhat less harmonious or melodic. The first sonata has more starts and stops to it, with more contrasting sections and a more emphatic rhythmic drive. Nevertheless, for all of its oddities it comes over with an appealingly pensive mood under the guidance of Monteiro and Santos.
In the solo violin work Monteiro not only gets to show off his more virtuosic talents, he gets to display his knowledge and feeling for the jazz idioms Schulhoff adopted. Finally, in the second sonata we hear a more dance-like feeling from the composer, probably from his embracing more of the native folk elements of his country. Don't expect Dvorak, but you get the idea. It begins briskly, energetically, followed by a highly expressive slow movement and returning in the final segments to some of the same themes with which the music started. Again, Monteiro and Santos make a splendid team, keeping the drama of the piece moving forward with a pulsating, scintillating enchantment.
Producer Bruno Monteiro and engineer and editor Jose Fortes recorded the album at Igreja da Cartuxa, Caxias, Portugal in April 2016. The church makes an excellent setting for the musicians, the sound taking on a touch of hall resonance without in any way affecting the overall transparency of the instruments. We get clarity and dynamic impact aplenty, plus a realistic separation of players, making the listening both pleasurable and lifelike”.

 

Classical.net, Brian Wigman

“This is a beautiful disc. Bruno Monteiro and pianist Joao Paulo Santos have already tackled some adventurous repertoire for Naxos and Brilliant Classics, and this may be their finest achievement on disc.
Since moving to Brilliant Classics, Monteiro's unique tone has been beautifully captured. Joäo Paulo Santos isn't a mere background artist, but a deeply sensitive and commitment artistic partner. There's a lot of piano writing in both the suite and the sonatas, and none of it is especially simple. But the violin writing is consistently inventive and proves very rewarding.
The sound is excellent and ideally compliments the performances. These pieces would be an ideal recital item, and I'm a little surprised we don't hear them more often. Thanks to Brilliant Classics for this important addition to both the composer's discography and the library of violin music on disc”.

 

Classical Modern Music, Grego Applegate Edwards

"Erwin Schulhoff was born a Czech in 1894 and lived much of his life there. His student years found him at Prague Conservatory when only 10; studies followed in Vienna, Leipzig and Cologne, where among others he studied with Max Reger and Debussy. His Jewish heritage led to his untimely death in the hands of the Nazis in 1942.
He went through in successive years of composition a post-romantic, avant garde, then a Czech folk and neoclassical phase. You can pretty much hear all periods to good effect in the new release Complete Music for Violin and Piano (Brilliant 95324). The works are played with lively spirit and idiomatic sensitivity by Bruno Monteiro on violin and João Paulo Santos on piano.
I've heard a bit of his music previously but this particular volume is a ear-opener. From the great character of his "Suite for Violin and Piano," the modernity of his "Sonata for Solo Violin," to the classical-folk inspiration and workmanship of his two "Sonatas for Violin and Piano" a complete picture emerges of an original voice of his times, a composer of thematic cogency and an excellent sense of flow.
He may be the greatest of the composers to be lost to us in the holocaust, or certainly among the most talented.
This volume spells out his brilliance. I do recommend it very strongly".

 

MusicWeb International, Stuart Sillitoe

“Of the four works presented here I only knew two, the Sonata for Solo Violin and the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2. In my other recording, by Oleh Krysa and Tatiana Tchekina (BIS-CD-697), the second sonata is denoted as No. 1 Op. 7. Here Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos are considerably slower than Krysa and Tchekina whose performance I prefer.
He (Monteiro) makes a good fist of it (…) João Paulo Santos does sound at home, he proves an adept interpreter, bringing out every nuance of the music.
The sound is good. At first I thought it a little over-bright, but with repeated listening I came to the conclusion that it was Bruno Monteiro’s tone and not the recording. The accompanying booklet notes are quite detailed and informative, concentrating on the music rather than the composer. They make a good introduction to these works".

 

Clic Music, Gilles-Daniel Percet

****

"Noticed early on by Dvorak, the Czech Schulhoff (pianist and composer) died shortly after his arrest (which preceded a planned escape for the USSR) by the Nazis who had long pointed him as a Jewish Bolshevik (author of a cantata on the Communist Manifesto !), gay (but married) and with a '' degenerate '' vision of the future. He quickly abandoned post-Romanticism and "Debussyism," and was drawn to jazz and Dadaism.
He proclaimed that the absolute art revolution was against agreed sound and rhythm. Between the bitter lines, dances and more traditional expressivity (the '' Tranquilo '' here in the first sonata), in which mostly feels a prolonged freshness, renewal almost in sight, a kind of inspired perpetuum mobile. Not to mention that he was a friend of Alban Berg (the sounds he sometimes resembles, as in this second sonata), he never resorted to serialism.
And always, a trip to Bach (the title is already present in the beautiful Andante of the second sonata and sonata for solo violin) socialist realism, dissonances, modal tone and quarter, but in a very free approach. Truly inspiring music, invigorating, gaining in depth by repeated listening, perfectly served by our two artists”.

 

Revista Ritmo, Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro

Editor´s Choice/Top 10 CD´s of March

*****
"Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos are friends of fascinating but little traveled repertoires, those songs of centuries that describe the ambiguity of times, the uncertainties and the profound stylistic changes. If they already had their encounter with Szymanowski's violin and piano works (those Myths ...), they now reach that of Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942), who died in the concentration camp at Wülzburg, where he died of tuberculosis. This production of 4 works (Suite WV18, Sonata No. 1, Sonata for Violin Solo WV83 and Sonata No. 2) is like a vital daily of the author, from the early and neoclassical Suite, to Sonata n. 2 of 1927. Schulhoff, unlike other contemporaries, does not write ample movements, its greater duration is found in the first one of the Sonata n. 2 (about 6'40 "). Wide use of mute, sonorities close to irony or harmonically unstable intervals, propitiated by the search for a consolidated modernity, flow with naturalness in the bow of Bruno Monteiro, great connoisseur of these sonatas. As the works are in chronological order, the listener perceives an increasingly moderate Schulhoff (but never very reflective, there is a lot of tension, like the Andante of the Sonata for violin alone and Sonata No. 2, this very bartókian), more creative and with greater control of the form".

 

Musical Opinion, Robert Matthew-Walker

*****
“This is a most important record of previously-negleted 20th-centuary chamber music. Schulhoff was one of the very fine Jewish musicians – a pianist and a composer – who perished in the Holocaust. It is only in recent decades that his music is being rediscovered and being given its due as a significant work of a composer with great gifts. We have to thank violinist Bruno Monteiro and his excellent partner João Paulo Santos for giving us this very well played and recorded CD, which makes a belated act of restitution for a notable composer. The music largely dates from the 1920 and 30´s of course, and in many ways, reflects the modern ethos of those decades – but Schulhoff is no imitator – here is the music of an idividual composer, well worth hearing”.

 

Scherzo Magazine, Santiago Martín Bermúdez

"Erwin Schulhoff was not allowed to turn fifty. The Nazis killed him, like so many millions. Surprise from this album; the chamber music by that composer who would have been insurmountable had he not fallen into the nets in which he got himself as resistant. To resist the Third Reich, being Czech, when British and French had given him their blessings in Munich, in 1938! It is surprising because in these works for violin, alone or accompanied, we see a transit towards new objectivity and a nostalgia for a lost time, which is not precisely that of the late Romantic sounds. It is also surprising because it is a fully Portuguese production, an album recorded at the Igreja da Cartuxa in Caxias last year, by two great Portuguese artists. Monteiro and Santos play the Sonatas for violin and piano, the Suite that opens the recital (five beautiful dances with classic touch) and the Sonata for solo violin, in whose four movements Monteiro shines; Is a wise, penetrating work. The true advantage of the interwar period was composed by composers such as Schulfoff, who followed, denied, dismantled, or surpassed post-Vienna teachings. But also the teachers were expelled or annihilated, so things became difficult after the years to tie up. This CD comes very well to those who do that, who tie the ends of a time that we did not know everything about, and of which recently, from some time in the late 70's and early 80's, we began to receive - timonium, credit, information as contained here. Monteiro and Santos make a beautiful album from a hidden repertoire by the illogical of things. And Brilliant points out a new tide in its recoveries, on the other hand, so accessible to modest pockets without modest pretensions and goals".

 

Musicalifeiten, Jan de Kruijff

"The works performed here in chronological order originated between 1912 and 1927, in the first period of tragically short life, long before the Czech-German composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) became a victim of the Nazi regime. They beautifully illustrate his lifelong fascination for the eclectic and the iconoclastic. He was one of the most experimental composers of the interwar period. For example, during the period in which these works originated, he was able to incorporate the opposite aesthetic of both Viennese expressionism and German Dadaists into his work. Folk music and jazz also had a major influence on his instrumental works. We can even hear shadows from Mahler and Janáček.
It is useful here to have all his works for violin and piano together because only the Solo Sonata and the Violin Sonata No. 2 are reasonably familiar, for example from Oleh Krysa and Tatiana Tchekina (BIS CD 697).
The portraits of the Portuguese duo are somewhat slower and more difficult than those of the rivals.
It is a coincidence that his works for violin and piano, consisting of four compositions, fits exactly on a CD.
It seems wise also to try Tanje Becker-Bender and Markus Becker (Hyperion CDA 67833) for this same program".

 

Österreichische Musikzeitschrift Wien, Martina Gruber

Erwin Schulhoff: Complete Music for Violin and Piano

"Born in Prague in 1894, Erwin Schulhoff entered the Prague Conservatory at the age of ten with the recommendation of Antonín Dvořák and finished his musical education in Vienna, Leipzig and Cologne under the guidance of Claude Debussy and Max Reger.

Comprising initially the romantic style, he was soon inspired by jazz, dadaism and Czech folklore.

Political allusions in his works, but especially his Jewish roots led him to fateful fate and he died in 1942 in a Nazi German Concentration Camp.

Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos are a duo with an edited discography.

After the recording of the works for violin and piano by Fernando Lopes-Graça (2014) and Karol Szymanowski (2015) now is Erwin Schulhoff in the program.

The Suite for violin and piano (1911) still sounds in the style of the eighteenth century, whereas in the Sonata nº 1 for violin and piano (1913) modern influences are present, in particular of his teacher Debussy.

The Solo Violin Sonata (1927) has references to the music of Eastern Europe and leads Monteiro to virtuoso expressiveness.

As a final apogee, in the Sonata nº 2 for violin and piano (1927) with a dance character, the pulsating piano chords by João Paulo Santos merge with the sound of Bruno Monteiro's violin and the creative musical language of Schulhoff comes alive " .