The Violin Sonata No. 1 was written in 1851, at a time when Robert Schumann was - as expressed to his biographer Wasiliewsky - 'very annoyed with certain people', which may have been a reference to the tensions that existed between the composer and the Dusseldorf Musikverein. Schumann expressed his feelings of annoyance in the baroque-style finale through an air of robustness, even roughness, which sits in steep contrast with the fretful and tender opening movement. The public premiere was given by Ferdinand David and Clara Schumann in March 1852, but it was not until Joseph Joachim's performance the following year that the work received the recognition it deserved. Robert Schumann referred to the Violin Sonata as a 'Duo' with the two instrumentalists performing in equal partnership. In the Sonata by Johannes Brahms, on the other hand, the violin is always the principal voice, the piano never a competitor, but rather a subtle accompanist. Brahms wrote this work in memory of his godson, Felix Schumann, the youngest of Robert and Clara's children, a gifted musician, who died tragically young of tuberculosis. He was only twenty-five. Clara Schumann was deeply moved by the piece, and particularly delighted by the finale with its quotation of 'Regenlied', one of her favourites among all of Brahms's songs. In her lifetime, Clara Schumann was best known as a great pianist, but up until her thirties she composed a fair amount of music, including a Piano Concerto, songs, and many piano pieces. Three Romances was the only work she wrote for the combination of piano and violin, and while the violin is allowed to sing out throughout, the subtlety and complexity of the piano part testify to its having been composed by a pianist of the first rank. In 2002, at the age of twelve, Jennifer Pike notably became the youngest-ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. She has given performances throughout the UK and abroad and, now aged just twenty-three, is widely regarded as one of the finest violinists in Britain. Tom Poster is internationally recognised as a pianist of outstanding artistry and versatility, equally in demand as a soloist and as a chamber musician across an unusually extensive repertoire.
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