The current volume of the edition of the Critical Edition of Richard Strauss Works gives us an insight into this world of a composer’s early life and works. The chamber music works for one string instrument and piano (violin/piano and violoncello/piano) composed by the young musician between the ages of fifteen and twenty-three are published in this volume which is augmented with and contrasted by a very brief ‘off-the-cuff exercise’, an Allegretto written by the eighty-four-year-old Strauss returning to ‘free’ instrumental music towards the end of his compositional career. A fragmentary Moderato included as a facsimile in the volume shows an utterly childlike attempt at composition by a nine-year-old, at least already ambitiously scored for violin and piano, and a five-voice fugue (1880), probably also intended for performance by violin and piano, provides an impression of the budding musician’s contrapuntal ambitions. The mainstays and highlights of the volume due to the strength of their artistic integrity are the Sonata (op. 6) for piano and violoncello in two versions – the original version as yet unpublished – and the Sonata (op. 18) for piano and violin which slipped in as a ‘latecomer’ into a compositional period with an utterly different focus. Both these works succeeded in establishing themselves firmly into the range of favourite concert repertoire right from the start and have retained their popularity up to the present day.
Alongside the practical significance of a new critically edited and augmented definitive musical edition for performance, the current volume is equally suitable and welcome as an invitation to reconsider the early compositional period of a young composer who would very soon create a genuine sensation with his tone poems.
From the Foreword by Reinhold Schlötterer