The music of the German composer, conductor, performer and musical director, Friedrich Gernsheim (1839–1916), unlike his more successful contemporaries, Camille Saint-Saëns and Max Bruch, has never achieved the popularity that its quality merits. Although his compositions display the intelligence, discipline and complexity of his great friend and inspiration, Johannes Brahms, Gernsheim’s music fell out of fashion after his death, as avant-garde composers ushered in a new style that overshadowed his Romantic masterpieces.
However, as this excellent new recording of music for violin and piano demonstrates, Gernsheim’s decline in popularity is even more surprising when his music is considered. Spanning his entire musical career, the 2-disc set traverses youthful promise (the early Andante, composed when he was just 14 years old), energetic virtuosity (Introduction and Allegro appassionato), yearning beauty (Violin Sonata No.1), and mature, masterful control of artistic means (Violin Sonata No.4).
All the while, Gernsheim’s skill as both a violinist and a virtuoso pianist can be felt, given ample expression by the duo of brothers Stefan and Andreas Kirpal, whose perfectly matched techniques and timbres combine to create a recording of finesse and polish.