Classical and Modern Music

Format: CD

Šifra: 115189

EAN: 3838898115189


Violinist Dejan Bravničar (1937–2018) is one of the most important Slovenian performers of the second half of the twentieth century. His family environment had an important influence on his personal and artistic development, as his mother Gizela was a ballerina and his father Matija Bravničar was a composer and violinist. The latter is regarded as one of the leading Slovenian composers of the mid twentieth century, and made an important contribution to shaping the cultural and social life of that time with his work as an artist, writer and teacher, not least as a professor and dean of the Ljubljana Academy of Music. His son Dejan became acquainted with the violin at an early age. On the secondary school level, his father entrusted him to Fran Stanič, and at the Ljubljana Academy of Music he studied with Karl Rupel. After graduating, he continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, with one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, David Oistrakh. During his stay in Moscow, he met a number of the world’s greatest musicians of the time. This was followed by a year of additional studies with renowned violinist Pina Carmirelli at the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome.
After completing his studies, Bravničar settled in his homeland as a freelance soloist. In addition to numerous appearances at home, he performed in England, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Switzerland, the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, collaborating with top conductors such as Kurt Sanderling, Kirill Kondrashin, Paul Kletzki, Carlo Zecchi, Jean Martinon and others. He was also active in the field of chamber music, where he collaborated with cellist Ciril Škerjanc and pianist Aci Bertoncelj in the Tartini Trio, performing both in Slovenia and in world cultural centers such as Vienna, New York and Paris. In the mid 1960s, he began teaching at the Ljubljana Academy of Music, and later served as the institution’s dean for eight years. He educated generations of violinists who play in professional Slovenian orchestras and teach at music schools.
In his solo career, Dejan Bravničar performed more than fifty violin concertos. His repertoire extended from Vivaldi and Bach to Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Brahms, Lalo, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, Sibelius and Szymanowski, as well as the most important works of this genre from the twentieth century, such as the concertos of Bartók, Khachaturian, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. With his work, he left an indelible mark on the Slovenian musical landscape. As a soloist, he introduced new and higher standards of musical performance to the domestic music scene. At a time when firstrate art was accessible only in rare centers, his numerous concerts around Slovenia enabled a wide audience to become acquainted with works of the world violin literature in superb performances. His contribution to the promotion of Slovenian music was also invaluable. As a soloist, he performed violin concertos by Lucijan Marija Škerjanc, Danilo Švara, Matija Bravničar and Primož Ramovš, as well as a number of other Slovenian works, many of which he also promoted aboard, either as a soloist or with the Tartini Trio. His pedagogical activities were enhanced with his editions of important world and domestic repertoire. He received numerous state awards and recognitions for his work, including the Prešeren Fund Award and the City of Ljubljana Award. He was appointed as a professor emeritus of the University of Ljubljana and as an honorary member of ESTA Slovenia.
Dejan Bravničar was one of the most distinguished figures of Slovenian music and left an enduring mark with his artistic and pedagogical contribution.

Matija Bravničar (1897–1977), who was himself a violinist, created one of the most extensive and important violin opuses in the Slovenian repertoire. Suonata in modo antico (1948) belongs to the composer’s post-war creative period, when he increasingly focused on absolute music without any of the extramusical references that are evident in his earlier works. Suonata reflects a return to Baroque and Classical compositional ideals, an approach that we encounter in a number of twentieth-century composers, including Stravinsky, Ravel, the French composers of Les Six and many others. With the title Suonata in modo antico (Suonata in the Old Style), the composer highlights the dual nature of the work. First, it is about engaging with older compositional approaches. There are therefore clear parallels with the Baroque sonata in the composition’s formal scheme, as is reflected in its tripartite structure with the movements Prelude, Aria and Finale. Unlike Bravničar’s earlier works, which, at least on first glance, appear to be improvisational in conception, Suonata was more robustly constructed following classical compositional principles: the harmony again approaches functional relationships, we encounter typically Baroque sequences, and so on. However, the deviations from tradition are also important. It is these that the composer draws attention to by naming the work Suonata – derived from the modern Italian expression for sound – instead of “sonata”. The composer wrote Suonata in modo antico for his son Dejan upon the conclusion of his secondary school education and it is intended for concert purposes.
Mladi koncertant (The Young Concert Performer) is a collection of concert pieces suitable for young violinists with various levels of technical knowledge. It was published in 1954. If anyone, Matija Bravničar was aware of the importance of the systematic schooling and education of young musicians, as he did not have an opportunity to gain such an education himself and was only able to start learning the violin in secondary school. Since the available opportunities were inadequate, he found his own way with private teachers, frequently changing teachers for various reasons. Thus, his music instruction proceeded without a systematic approach and appropriate gradation. It was only when Bravničar was already serving in the opera orchestra that he gained access to teachers with a truly professional mastery of the instrument. The collection Mladi koncertant comprises eleven compositions. In them, Bravničar does not specifically deal with didactic issues. Instead, every composition is a miniature work of art, a rounded whole with a specific character that enables the young violinist to show his or her temperament and, above all, to develop the ability of musical expression.
Fantasy (1945) dates from Bravničar’s mature period, when he started to combine his previous compositional insights and the influences of modern musical currents with classical principles. Although the composition appears quite free, it is in fact a very carefully considered work in terms of form. It is designed as a “classical” tripartite composition with an introduction in which two contrasting motivic fragments are presented. The first is distinctly rhythmic and is marked by a dotted rhythmic figure, while the second, with its even sixteenth-note movement, is “melodic”, being based on specific intervals and their sequence. This is followed by a fantasy treatment of the motivic material, first by modelling the leading line in the violin with the aforementioned rhythmic figure, and then by gradually combining it with the “melodic” material in the accompaniment. Later, the motivic material is intertwined and redistributed into various functional combinations between the violin and the piano. Then it is gradually united, leading to the final merging of both contrasting motives into a new thematic whole. Whereas, in the classical approach, we are used to the presentation of the theme coming first, followed by the treatment of its motives and fragments, in Bravničar’s Fantasy the process is reversed. Fantasy was premiered by violinist Jelka Stanič in 1946.
Elegia nocturna (1942) is a lyrical composition with a distinctive mood. As is already clear from the switching of the labels in the title, it is a case of a nocturnal elegy or an elegiac nocturne. The composition is designed in tripartite song form. The central section brings thematic material that is in contrast to the subdued first section, with an intensification of the tempo and dynamics right up to the climax. Calm is then restored and the composition is rounded off with a slightly modified repetition of the first section. The improvisational character that is so characteristic of Bravničar’s earlier creative period is reflected mainly in the melody, which is not built on a theme or motive, while the pedal harmonies and the inversions of tetrachords in the rhythmic ostinato give the work a melancholy character. The composition is dedicated to Ivan Karlo Sancin, a friend from the composer’s youth who, as Bravničar himself remarked, “paved the way” for his musical career. Having already taught Bravničar the violin without charging for the lessons, Ivan Sancin continued to closely follow the composer’s development and opened the door to the Ljubljana Opera, where Bravničar worked for more than a quarter of a century as a violinist in the orchestra. Matija Bravničar often engaged with dance material in his compositional opus. In his earlier creative period, the tango was an ideal challenge for the composer, as it was extremely well suited to his compositional aspirations and style. It offered him a wealth of rhythmic ideas, and it was precisely the element of rhythm that fascinated Bravničar throughout his career. At the same time, the “wild” and “untameable” nature of the tango enabled the composer to use luxuriant harmonies, which, like a painter, he applied in thick layers.
Tango mouvements (1939) is not a dance in the classical form and sense. Instead, the composer used the work to explore and develop the rhythmic figures of Argentine tango, habanera and milonga, which he filled with contrasting harmonies with almost “barbaric” colouring. Despite the apparent freedom, the piece is thoughtfully constructed, with the form being most reminiscent of a kind of rondo. Bravničar does not devote particular attention to melody. The theme appears relatively late in the piano (bar 43) and is repeated several times, first in the violin. The composition is written in the composer’s characteristic personal style. Although this style reflected current happenings in music, Bravničar was always able to critically evaluate them and use them with reflection within the context of his own artistic creed. In Bravničar’s extensive violin opus, which includes compositions accompanied by piano or orchestra, the Sonata for Solo Violin, dedicated to his son Dejan, occupies a special place. Writing for solo string instruments is certainly the greatest challenge in this field, requiring an excellent knowledge of string technique and the expressive possibilities of the instrument. The Sonata for Solo Violin belongs to the composer’s late period, when he began to pay more attention to the formal structure of his compositions and to existing compositional approaches. In the work’s four movements Moderato, Fuga, Andante mesto and Allegro capriccioso, Bravničar demonstrates a masterly control of violin technique, while at the same time managing to retain and develop all of the characteristics of his personal compositional style.

dr. Borut Smrekar



Matija Bravničar (1897-1977):
Suonata in modo antico *

1 Preludio 3:11
2 Aria 4:29
3 Finale 2:41

The Young Concert Performero
4 Pesem zvončkov 1:33
5 Pripovedka 2:26
6 Poskočna 1:07
7 Jesenska pesem 3:08
8 Kolo 1:53
9 Improvizacija 2:25
10 Koračnica 2:45
11 Otožni ples 3:27
12 Lahkotni ples 1:34
13 Žalostinka 4:03
14 Posmehljivka 2:07
15 Fantazija • 4:23
16 Elegia nocturna • 4:41
17 Tango mouvements • 4:01

Sonata for violin solo
18 Moderato 3:50
19 Fuga: Allegro moderato 5:35
20 Andante mesto 3:24
21 Allegro capriccioso 3:27

Dejan Bravničar, violin
Aci Bertoncelj, piano *
Lidija Stanković, piano ⁰
Mojca Pucelj, piano ●