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Julius Röntgen Society (U.K.)

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Getting to Know Röntgen's Music
12 representative works from the discography with brief descriptions

A. Early Works

1. Cello Sonata, Op. 3
Rather Mendelssohnian early work from Röntgens teens in three movements. Although without the more personal stamp of his mature works, it nevertheless displays his characteristic fluency and tunefulness.

B. Mature Works: Early Period

2. Wind Serenade, Op. 14
Famous as the work whose first movement main theme was unwittingly borrowed by Brahms in his own Second Symphony. A witty, thoroughly characteristic piece in four movements displaying superb use of the seven wind instruments, both collectively and individually. Should be a standard repertoire piece.

3. Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18
Perhaps best described as one of the missing links between the Schumann and Brahms piano concertos. Over half an hour in length, its first movement alternates between calm reflection and dramatic fire, the slow movement is all easeful lyricism and the finale is reminiscent of Brahms Hungarian Dances. You wont believe that this is not in the repertoire of our great piano virtuosi! 

4. Violin Sonata No. 3, Op. 20
Simply one of the greatest violin sonatas of the Romantic era. Tautly constructed and lasting only twenty minutes, it packs in more drama and tunes than some much longer and more well-known works. The passionate finale in particular will stay with you for days. Brahmsian in feel, but sunnier in outlook, this is quintessential Röntgen. 

5. String Quartet No. 5
Again taut in construction and thematically memorable, this is not a profound piece, but is a thoroughly characteristic one. Looking for an alternative to Brahmsian navel-gazing? This is just the job! 

C. Mature Works: Middle Period

6. Violin Sonata No. 4, Op. 40
If you can track down a copy of the only recording made of this piece, you will be rewarded with a work of heart-warming lyricism. In four movements, it is more expansive than sonata no. 3, but no less memorable. The soaring lyricism and biting drama of the slow movement mark a move forward from the earlier work. Again, should be a core repertoire piece.  

7. Piano Trio No. 4
As music critic Martin Anderson has said, if the Brahms piano trios leave you pining for more, theres one just right for you here! Its dedicatee, Carl Nielsen, praised its individual and compelling musical current, which despite its modern content, seems to have its roots in the vicinity of Schubert. He was right! 

8. Cello Sonata No. 3
9. Cello Sonata No. 4
10. Cello Sonata No. 5, Op.56

A wonderful trilogy of mature chamber works. Dedicated to Pablo Casals, there is tremendous variety here:  Nos. 3 and 4 share a passionate lyricism, whereas No. 5 is more reflective. All are tuneful and typical of the composers style. Again, each sonata should be in the repertoire of the worlds great cellists. 
 

D. Late Works

11. Viola Sonata No. 1
By the mid-twenties, Röntgen was combining his characteristic lyricism with modernistic experimentation. The harmonies have become more adventurous, there is an edge to the lyricism and for the first time irony and eeriness appear in the thematic material. But the memorability remains - now in a new guise! Violists take note!  

12. Symphony No. 4
Although sometimes numbered 8, this was actually only the fourth symphony to see the light of day (the others are lost). Written in 1930, it is one of seventeen symphonies from Röntgens final six years (eighteen in all have survived). It is one movement and alternates quiet reflection, including a wordless soprano soloist, with dramatic, quasi-(Richard) Straussian episodes.

Priorities for Future Recordings

If you prefer the Brahmsian lyricism of the works of Röntgen's early and middle maturity, then the following suggest themselves:

·       
Symphony No.1 in C minor (1910)
·       
Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor (1887)
·        Piano Concerto No.4 in F major (1906)
·       
Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor (1902)
·        Cello Concerto No.1 (1893-4)
·        Cello Concerto No.2 in G minor (1909)
·        Serenade for Orchestra in E major (1902)
·        String Quintet in C major (1877)
·        Piano Quintet in C major (1903)
·        String Quartet No.2 in A minor (1874)
·        String Quartet No.3 in C minor (1877)
·        String Quartet No.4 in F sharp minor (1877)
·        String Quartet No.6 (1895)
·        Piano Trio No.1 in B flat major, Op. 23 (1883)
·        Piano Trio No.2 in D major (1898)
·        Piano Trio No.3 in G minor (1898)
·        Violin Sonata No.5 in F major (1908)
·        Cello Sonata No.2 in A minor, Op. 41 (1900)
·        Cello Sonata No.6 in D major (1914-15)
·        Piano Sonata No.7 in C minor (1877)
·        Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor (1898)  

 Brief Overview of Röntgens (Surviving) Works

 Orchestral

·        18 symphonies (l7 appearing after 1926)
·       
1 Serenade for Orchestra

 Concertos

·       
7 piano concertos
·        3 violin concertos
·        3 cello concertos
·        1 concerto for violin, viola and cello (1922)
·        1 concerto for violin and cello (1927)
·        1 concerto for 2 violins, viola and cello (1930)

Chamber

·        1 string sextet (1931)
·        3 piano quintets (1903, 1927, 1932)
·        1 quintet for piano and winds (1911)
·        1 string quintet
·        22 string quartets (1867-1932)
·        2 piano quartets (1919, 1931)
·        16 string trios (1915-30)
·        14 piano trios (1883-1932)
·        1 trio for piano, clarinet and viola (1921)
·        1 trio for flute, cor anglais and harp (1927)
·        14 cello sonatas (1872/3-1931)
·        8 violin sonatas (1867-1926)
·        3 viola sonatas (1924-5)
·        2 oboe sonatas (1918, 1928)
·        1 bassoon sonata (1929)
·        1 viola damore sonata (1913)
·        1 sonata for violin and cello (1925) 

Instrumental

·       
1 sonata for two pianos (1881)
·        26 piano sonatas (1864-1932)
·        sonatas and suites for solo violin (1922), cello (1930) 

Vocal

·        extensive list of lieder and choral works too diverse to assess at present !