The dates are deceptive: the Viennese composer Ferdinand Rebay (1880-1953) remained largely unaffected by the turbulent musical currents swirling around him in the Austrian capital during the early 20th century. Instead, he composed highly appealing music, Romantic in harmony and Classical in form, with a particular focus on the guitar. Brilliant Classics have brought his name back to light in recent years with modern recordings of the duets for clarinet and guitar (94171), the quartets for guitar, flute and strings (9250) and the sonatas for flute and guitar (9291).
In a similar vein, the Italian Esteso Trio now presents three variation sets scored for clarinet, flute and guitar. The first of them is based on an Austrian folksong and conceived as a series of homages to Rebay’s Viennese forebears: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Johann Strauss. The second takes a Tirolean folksong for inspiration and Rebay supplied his own theme for the third, again popular in character and ending with an ebullient Scherzo.
In between these highly attractive variation sets, the Esteso Trio plays a Trio and a Spanish Rhapsody’, both likewise dedicated to Rebay’s niece, the concert guitarist Gerta Hammerschmied, who apparently inspired the composer’s passion for the instrument: ‘Meiner lieben Gerta! Ostern 1941’ reads the title page of the Trio. Rebay worked as a piano professor at the conservatoire and composed prolifically in his spare time – more than 600 works bear his name – in a spirit of relaxed craftsmanship that makes an hour spent in his company full of uncomplicated pleasure. ‘Rebay was no dilettante - as tuneful as his music always is, it is unfailingly imaginative’ (MusicWeb International).
- Ferdinand Rebay (1880–1953) was active at one of the most fascinating periods of European music and taught by one of the most respected musicians of the time – Robert Fuchs, at the Vienna Conservatoire. Fuchs was both a composer and a pedagogue, and among his esteemed pupils were Mahler, Wolf, Sibelius, Zemlinsky and Schreker. Fuchs considered Rebay to be one of his best pupils, although the young composer found it impossible to flourish within the environment of the Second Viennese School and continued to work within the late Romantic idiom.
Rebay turned to the guitar due to the influence of his friend Jacobus Ortner, Professor of Guitar at the conservatoire. Aware that the neglect of guitar repertoire for over half a century had led to a decline in the quality of writing for the instrument, Rebay set out to write complex, serious music that continued in the tradition of Giuliani and Sor.
- This new recording presents Rebay’s works for guitar, flute and clarinet, an unusual combination. These compositions show Rebay’s compositional style: the music is innovative and challenging, and the guitar is a fully integrated member of the chamber ensemble, rather than a soloist accompanied by the other instruments.
- Played by the Italian Esteso Trio, an ensemble specialized in the research and performance of neglected chamber music.