In 1860, Brahms maintained a rich correspondence with his friend Joseph Joachim concerning possible signatories of the infamous manifest against the “New German School”
of Wagner and Liszt. Friedrich Kiel was considered as supporter. Kiel, son of a teacher and born in Puderbach, Westphalia, who
worked above all in Berlin as pianist, concertmaster, esteemed pedagogue and colleague of the violinist Joachim, however, stood ﬁrmly between the frontlines, since he had
dedicated his op. 1 to Franz Liszt in 1852. In addition to some important sacred works, Kiel wrote above all chamber music. He was committed to the heritage of Schubert and Schumann concerning the songfulness of the voice-leading
and the imaginative treatment of the classical forms, yet often allowed for a little advanced harmony, reminiscent of Liszt. His Violin Sonata in g minor op. 67 printed in 1876 is dedicated to his friend, the court music director in Dresden, Julius Rietz. The inspired and supremely well-composed piece can be considered as the most important genre example from the romantic period next to the sonata by the Russian Anton Rubinstein published in Leipzig in 1855 and ahead of Brahms’ sonatas. The fact that Kiel’s sonata was also published in versions for violin and cello is typical for the ﬂexible attitude towards making music at the time and also has to do with business considerations.
The opening Allegro of Kiel’s op. 67 begins rather restrained, but quickly grows towards an emotiona high point, borne by an energetic main theme that prominently strives upward. However, this theme is effectively contrasted by a lyrical, Lied-like second theme. The ﬂowing singing of the viola and the
accentuated partnership of the piano’s voice result in a sound fabric that is as dense as it is evocative and that resolves in a poetic phrase of the viola in the end.
The Scherzo with the tempo indication Vivo combines lively, dance-like cheerfulness with melancholy thoughts in the middle part. After quasi
questioning chords from the piano, the vitality returns, yet this movement, too, ends thoughtfully. In the intimate Andante, the viola “sings” melodies the loveliness of which seems to be made relative by delicate nuances. The nimble main motif of the ﬁnal movement, Allegro molto, was seen as “Hunting song”, yet the festive mood is quashed time and again through recitative-like, seemingly tragic passages in the best emulation of Schubert – and again it is the quiet notes, this time succinct pizzicato, that end the movement.