Ives. The 4 Violin Sonatas and Largo for Violin and Piano.
With Herbert Henck (Piano).

Henck’s recordings of the first piano sonata by Ives and the legendary Concord Sonata were highly acclaimed. I listened to the records and immediately realized that I wanted to perform the violin sonatas by Ives – of course with Herbert Henck. This was a rather presumptuous undertaking, because Henck was at the zenith of his skill and reputation. It was no coincidence that both Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen wanted him to record their complete piano works for their sixtieth birthday. His recordings of important New Piano Music, accompanied by well-deserved hymns of praise, appeared constantly. Furthermore, Henck ran his own publishing house with important contributions by prominent composers and performers. With regard to my request, he kindly informed me that he on principle only performed solo, neither with chamber music partners nor with orchestras.

Indeed it has remained that way – with the exception of our performances and recording of the complete works of Ives for violin and piano, and I still do not know exactly what was the decisive factor for this exception. After all, we studied the works excessively and enthusiastically together, played them in several concerts, and finally recorded them for the small label Edition Michael Frauenlob Bauer. Bauer was on the rise at the time, and seemed to be exactly the kind of fanatic and perfectionist that was needed for such a venture, and had unorthodox ideas concerning technical sound that matched those of Ives, who repeatedly wrote: “piano forte, violin pianissimo, non crescendo” etc. Sometimes the violin could be flooded, sink and then reappeared unexpectedly. In general, the recording moved away from the classical and mostly technically supported violin sound and thus led into the completely different world of Ives’ music. A previously made ORF recording of the first sonata as well as a recording of the second sonata from the ORF-Funkhaus Salzburg, recorded in the traditional way, show the difference, although I also find them beautiful. For the production of the first two sonatas I had persuaded the composer and jazz musician Werner Pirchner to join us as recording director, who was an excellent partner for both Ives’ completely unorthodox music and the unorthodox microphone setting.

The double album was greatly appreciated by the public and the press. Unfortunately, a CD was never made and the offers of other companies to take over the recording were rejected. As far as I know, the recordings are only available as vinyl rarities on a case-by-case basis, sometimes at horrendous prices, from which we musicians receive nothing…

I’m not complaining, especially since Henck, who introduced me to Bauer, is in the same situation with many more recordings, including improvisations that are absolutely unrepeatable. But I still hope that this music, so important to me, will find new ways of reaching listeners at some point.

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