Obscure Music Monday: Farrenc's Violin Sonata No. 2
Louise Farrenc (May 31, 1804 - Sept. 15, 1875) was a French pianist, teacher, and composer. Born in Paris, she started the piano at an early age, and later on also showed a knack for composition. At the age of fifteen, her parents let her study composition with Anton Reicha at the Paris Conservatory. Later on she embarked upon a successful concert career, started a publishing house with her husband, and eventually became a Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory. As a composer, Farrenc first started out writing solely for the piano, for which she got much praise, including from Robert Schumann. Later on she started writing chamber music, and that genre is considered by many to be some of her best.
Her Violin Sonata No. 2 is a bright work filled with beautiful melodies and harmonic progressions that straddle the Classical and Romantic eras, which you'll hear clearly in the first movement, marked Allegro Grazioso.
In the Scherzo, the violin and piano have some brilliant interplay with each other. Both parts keep each other on their toes, with quick phrases being given and answered in the blink of any eye.
In the Adagio third movement, the piano starts with the basic theme before the violin comes with the melody. The violin part doesn't move particularly quickly, so it's a wonderful opportunity for the violinist to focus on phrasing, tone, and vibrato.
For the finale, the piano starts with a triumphant theme that sounds like a bugle call, and for a bit the violin seems to accompany the piano. This cheerful movement has some fast runs for the violin along with double stops, giving the violinist some more great technical challenges, before the work ends on a cheerful, triumphant note.
Here's a recording of this lovely sonata for you to enjoy!*
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