Carl Höckh – Violin Sonatas

The world premiere recording of the virtuoso violin sonatas by Carl Höckh, composed in the 18th century, performed by musicians working for the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra.

Price: 39 zł
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Year of release: 2019

Publishers: National Forum of Music, CD Accord

Performers: Mikołaj Zgółka – violin, Jarosław Thiel – cello, Aleksandra Rupocińska – harpsichord

Carl Höckh is undoubtedly an exceptional figure. Previous research and scientific inquiries do not explain many facts from his life, and the authenticity of some of his works is questioned. During the research, even the violinist’s portrait has remained undiscovered – perhaps it was never created. For the needs of this release, several important factual data have been collected, allowing us to shine some light on Höckh’s life and historical context – his times, life and work. This information still seems to be insufficient, especially on how much the violinist contributed to the development of German and international violin playing. Douglas A. Lee puts the composer in line with Johann Georg Pisendel, Franz Benda and Leopold Mozart, thus recognising Höckh as one of the founders of the violin school in the German-speaking area. This is, of course, the opinion of a competent contemporary researcher, but it is worth referring to several historical facts and sources that are behind it.

 

A characteristic feature of all the works on this album is the enormous wealth of virtuoso means of expression. Höckh 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 Höckh’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 later dates – their only chronological determinant is their stylistic characteristics. Rhythms, melodic phrases and ornaments show explicit references to the Berlin school of the second half of the 18th century. 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, putting 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. The achievements of Carl Höckh are undoubtedly a very important stage in the development of German and European violin music. It is mind-boggling why so far there have been no contemporary editions of his music, in addition to a deplorable lack of recordings on the phonographic market, which this CD has the task of compensating for, if only in a modest way.

Mikołaj Zgółka

Awards: Pizzicato Supersonic Award 2019

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