Ernst: Complete Music, Volume 1
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Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst: Complete Music for Violin and Piano, Volume One

Catalogue Number: TOCC0118
EAN: 5060113441188
Release Date: 17 January 2011
Duration: 76:17

Fantasie brilliante sur le Prophète, Op. 24
Deux Nocturnes, Op. 8
Carnaval de Venise, Op. 18
Deux Morceaux de Salon, Op. 13
Thème Allemand Varié, Op. 9
Rondo Allemand sur des thèmes d’Oberon, Op. 23
Rondo Papageno, Op. 20

Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812–65) was one of the leading musicians of his day, a friend of Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn, and for Joseph Joachim ‘the greatest violinist I ever heard’. But the popular encore pieces by which Ernst is remembered today represent only a fraction of his output. This series of six CDs presents his complete violin works for the first time, revealing one of the instrument’s most accomplished and memorable composers. The first disc shows him in a range of moods, from the mystery and grandeur of the Prophet Fantasy and the Chopinesque poetry of the Two Nocturnes to the bizarre whimsy of The Carnival of Venice and infectious high spirits of the Rondo Papageno – the nineteenth-century virtuoso violin both in introspective melancholy and at its most dazzlingly flamboyant.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-2 Fantasie brilliante sur le Prophète (Opéra de G. Meyerbeer), Op. 24 (c. 1850)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano
1 I. Allegretto molto moderato 4:54 play
2 II. Andantino pastorale 7:54 play
3-4 Deux Nocturnes, Op. 8 (c. 1834)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano
3 No. 2 in E major 4:54 play
4 No. 1 in A major 2:43 play
5-30 Carnaval de Venise (Variations burlesques sur la canzonetta ‘Cara mamma mia’), Op. 18 (1837)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano

(first complete recording)
5 Theme 0:34 play
6 Variation I 0:29 play
7 Variation II 0:30 play
8 Variation III 0:30 play
9 Variation IV 0:32 play
10 Variation V 0:31 play
11 Variation VI 0:30 play
12 Variation VII 0:31 play
13 Variation VIII 0:32 play
14 Variation IX 0:31 play
15 Variation X 0:34 play
16 Variation XI 0:29 play
17 Variation XII 0:32 play
18 Variation XIII 0:33 play
19 Variation XIV 0:28 play
20 Variation XV 0:30 play
21 Variation XVI 0:35 play
22 Variation XVII 0:31 play
23 Variation XVIII 0:28 play
24 Variation XIX 0:29 play
25 Variation XX 0:39 play
26 Variation XXI 0:25 play
27 Variation XXII 0:31 play
28 Variation XXIII 0:34 play
29 Variation XXIV 0:31 play
30 Variation XXV 0:45 play
31-32 Deux Morceaux de Salon, Op. 13 (1841-42)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano
31 No. 1, Adagio sentimentale 5:51 play
32 No. 2, Rondino grazioso 6:07 play
33-39 Thème Allemand Varié, Op. 9 (c. 1835)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano

(first recording)
33 Introduction 2:09 play
34 Theme 1:14 play
35 Variation I 0:58 play
36 Variation II 1:01 play
37 Variation III 1:06 play
38 Variation IV and Moderato 2:36 play
39 Variation V 1:08 play
40-42 Rondo Allemand pour Piano et Violon sur des thèmes d’Oberon, Schunke’s Op. 23 (c. 1836)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Charles Schunke, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano

(first recording)
40 Introduzione: Andante 3:01 play
41 Rondo: Allegro moderato 7:03 play
42 Final: Presto 1:44 play
43 Rondo Papageno, Op. 20 (c. 1845)

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer
Sherban Lupu, violin
Ian Hobson, piano
8:10 play


Lithographic portrait of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, composer

Charles Schunke, composer

Sherban Lupu

Sherban Lupu, violin

Ian Hobson

Ian Hobson, piano


Delicately tinted virtuosity

The violin playing in Toccata’s first volume devoted to the music of violinist Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812–65) provides only one element in a very enticing package. Mark Rowe, whose biography of the violinist Ashgate Press published in 2008, wrote the voluminous notes, and Toccata has announced its intention to publish the sheet music (almost all of Ernst’s works have been difficult to obtain) for each of the pieces in all the CD programs, edited by Sherban Lupu, who performs them. In addition, the disc contains 43 tracks, and each of the variations in the sets has one of its own, so readers of the notes can easily go to the precise locations that Rowe mentions—and he mentions quite a few.

Will listeners feel that Ernst is worth it? Nicolò Paganini, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, and Richard Wagner, to name only a few worthies cited in the notes, surely did. And anyone who has compared Ernst’s Six Polyphonic Studies with Paganini’s caprices may already have experienced a nagging doubt about whether those time-honored caprices really hold up musically in the light of what Ernst accomplished. Then again, compare Paganini’s Variations on “God Save the King” (British patriotism) with Ernst’s on “The Last Rose of Summer” (a corresponding bit of Irish green): The former sounds mechanically perfunctory; the latter, wistfully poetic (even discounting the title).

Lupu’s program begins with Ernst’s Fantaisie brillante sur Le Prophète, and it’s clear from the very first measures that Lupu, even if he sprinkles the first section’s introduction with almost jarring accents, has what seems to be great sympathy for the composer’s pathetic style, in which sighing portamentos perfume even the simplest passages. It’s also clear, especially in the second section, that he sometimes finds it difficult to make the running passages (somewhat similar to those that ornament Henri Wieniawski’s works) flow smoothly and gets into some trouble in the most difficult sections of rushing double-stops (who wouldn’t?). Nonetheless, the overall effect is one of delicately tinted virtuosity, much the same impression the pieces themselves make.

The Two Nocturnes further develop the sensitive side of Ernst’s musical nature, although Lupu plays the impassioned octaves of the second with commanding intensity and the elegant operatic air of the first with easy vocal grace. Paganini’s Carnival of Venice may be one of his signature works; in fact, Ernst’s 25 variations may have been inspired by Paganini’s original, but they’re even more genial and wittier (I remember watching Vadim Repin play Paganini’s work with a nonchalant sense of humor—that sense seeps through every measure of Lupu’s performance—and Ernst’s work as well). Rowe suggests that Ernst had in his repertoire some hundred such variations—but these sound very much like, though perhaps more difficult than, identical numbers in Paganini’s set. Violinists should want to acquire the sheet music as soon as it becomes available; it might lighten (if not elevate) the mood of a sober sonata recital.

The first of the Two Romances, Adagio sentimentale, sounds ardent in Lupu’s performance and almost serves as a prelude to the second, a Rondino grazioso, to which Lupu imparts all the elegance the title suggests. The booklet identifies the Thème Allemand Varié, op. 9, as receiving its first recorded performance. According to the notes, the German theme had appeared in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Andante favori and in a romance by Henri Vieuxtemps. Lupu encrusts the five variations, some of them, like the first, quite jaunty, with ear-popping technical wizardry. But there’s something extra: a fiendishly difficult and dazzling piano part composed by Charles Schunke as his own op. 23 (composers of the period often produced such fare jointly, as in the operatic fantasies by Servais and Vieuxtemps, on Naxos 8.572188,Fanfare 33:6). Ernst’s set of variations serves as a sort of center of buoyancy for the entire program. The collection concludes with the relatively frequently recorded Rondo Papageno, which, according to Rowe, bears similarities to the finale of Paganini’s First Concerto (obvious) and Antonio Bazzini’s Ronde de Lutins (less obvious but plausible), and Lupu sounds simply stunning in it.

Earlier collections, like Ruggiero Ricci’s (with the Polyphonic Studies and “The Last Rose of Summer,” Dynamic 28); Ingolf Turban’s (a selections of the Studies and more frequently encountered numbers like Ernst’s fantasies on Otello, the Elegie in C Minor, and the solo caprice on Erlkönig, on Claves 50-9613, Fanfare 20:6); and Ilya Gringolts’s reading of the Élégie, the Otello Fantasy, the studies, and the Erlkönig(on Hyperion 67619, Fanfare 31:6) have stuck closer to the core of Ernst’s repertoire. So despite the overlap of the Rondo Papageno, this collection makes available lots of new music in highly appealing and, where appropriate, highly entertaining performances. With its close and detailed recorded sound, its sympathetic collaboration between violinist and pianist, and its exploration of the music of a central figure in the history of violin playing (and, in the note, that figure himself), both specialists and nonspecialists should find something of interest. Urgently recommended to all sorts of listeners.

Robert Maxham Fanfare July 2011

Astonishing and bewitching

[…] Dismayingly overlooked, like so many other once-celebrated composer-virtuosos of the 19th century, Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812‑65) is at last beginning to receive a measure of recognition, on disc at least. […]

Sherban Lupu, currently editing a new edition of Ernst’s works for Toccata, first championed Ernst on disc back in 1990 (“Violon diabolique”, Continuum, 7/90) and is as much at home with the fiendish finger-breaker as he is with the sentimental-lyrical Ernst, not to mention the comedian. […]

Jeremy Nicholas Gramophone 2011


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