Rotterdam, 15 August 1859
Den Haag, 14 November 1943
Sonata in C opus 4
c. 1882
1. Adagio
2. Scherzo (Allegro comodo)
3. Finale (Molto Allegro appassionato)
duration: about 23′;
publisher: Cranz, Leipzig c. 1883;
dedicated to J.J. van Stolk;
available for download on the ‘Muziekschatten’ (musical treasures) site of the Muziekbibliotheek van de Omroep (music library of the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center).
From today’s vantage point Wouter Hutschenruyter was truly a person of multiple talents. As he was of the opinion that one shouldn’t try to do everything at the same time we are consequently able to subdivide his musical life into four periods. He was born into a musical dynasty from Rotterdam: his grandfather Wouter (Sr.) was a composer, his father Willem was band master of the harmonie orchestra of the Rotterdam militia and his younger brother Willem played the horn. Hutschenruyter studied the violin, piano and theoretical subjects at the music school, where his teachers included Woldemar Bargiel and Friedrich Gernsheim, and he regularly performed as a pianist from 1876 onwards. From 1879 to 1885 he himself was a piano teacher at the music school. In 1881 his opus 1 was published by Schott (Mainz). He enjoyed resounding success with his piano concerto Opus 5 (1883) in the double role of composer and pianist.
As early as 1879 Hutschenruyter was appointed assistant band master of the harmonie orchestra of the Rotterdam militia. In 1889 he conducted the world première of his orchestral suite Opus 8 in Berlin. In 1890 Willem Kes invited him to become the second conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He remained in this position for two years before becoming the conductor of the harmonie orchestra of the Utrecht militia. In 1894 this group fused together with the ensemble of the Muziek College to form the Utrechts Stedelijk Orkest, of which Hutschenruyter was appointed chief conductor. With his focused vision he succeeded in considerably raising the orchestra’s playing standard and brought an innovative approach to programming (including the introduction of ‘concerts for the people’ in 1898). He also reserved ample space for the inclusion of Dutch and contemporary music in the programming. In 1903 the orchestra collaborated with the Arnhemse Orkestvereniging to give the Dutch première of Mahler’s third symphony, while in 1906 it joined forces with the local orchestra in Essen (whose chief conductor was Hendrik Witte from Utrecht) to give the world première of Mahler’s sixth symphony, under the baton of its composer.
Meanwhile, in 1896 Hutschenruyter reviewed the performance of the Ring der Nibelungen in Bayreuth – incidentally, his arrangements of Wagner’s Walkürenritt and Waldweben, intended for concertante use, are still performed today – and in 1898 he published the first Dutch-language biography of Richard Strauss. In 1917 he left the orchestra and became director of the Muziekschool van Toonkunst in Rotterdam. He held this post until 1925 when he retired to The Hague. There he wrote his memoirs Consonanten en dissonanten. Mijn herinneringen (1930) and countless studies in music history. His final written work was a biography of Franz Schubert (1944). In total he wrote thousands of letters, hundreds of articles and observations and dozens of books.
During the short period that he was active as a composer Wouter Hutschenruyter wrote two sonatas roughly at the same time as his successful piano concerto: the violin sonata opus 3 and the cello sonata opus 4.
The first movement of the cello sonata has a three-movement structure A – B – A’. The main tempo (A) is a stately Adagio, which does full justice to its C minor tonality. The middle section (B) bears the character indication Molto più animato and expresses an inner turbulence, partly due to the long-drawn-out postponement of the return to the tonic key of G minor on two occasions and also due to the simultaneous combination of a binary (cello) and ternary (piano) 6/8 bar. The recapitulation (A’) modulates to C major halfway through, providing a consoling conclusion to the movement.
While the E flat major Scherzo bears the character indication Allegro comodo, its pulse should clearly be felt by bar, giving it a lively though never hectic character. The G major Trio is even somewhat faster.
Returning to C minor, the Finale is extremely tempestuous and remains so, also after it has modulated to C major approximately two-thirds of the way through. The work reaches its strikingly succinct conclusion in the same tonality.
(13 August 2014)


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