A Violin’s Life Vol. 3: Music for The ‘Lipiński’ Stradivari


EDVARD GRIEG (1843–1907)
Sonata No. 3 in C minor Op. 45
1. I. Allegro molto ed appassionato (9.09)
2. II. Allegretto espressivo alla Romanza (6.29)
3. III. Allegro animato (7.54)

AMANDA MAIER (1853–1894)
Piano Trio in E flat
4. I. Allegro (8.51)
5. II. Scherzo (4.47)
6. III. Andante (5.08)
7. IV. Finale: Allegro con fuoco (7.30)

Sonata Prima in D Op. 2/1 B.D13
8. I. Andante cantabile (4.30)
9. II. Allegro (4.14)
10. III. Affettuoso (2.47)
11. IV. Allegro assai (4.14)


Frank Almond’s life is intertwined with that of his violin, the “Lipiński” Strad, an exceptional instrument named for the famed 19th-century Polish violinist Karol Lipiński and first owned by legendary 18th-century Italian composer-violinist Giuseppe Tartini, represented on A Violin’s Life, Volume 3 by his Sonata Prima in D, Op. 2, a trio sonata in all but name. The masterful Piano Trio in E flat by 19th-century Swedish virtuosa Amanda Maier connects with the instrument that had passed on to her future father-in-law Engelbert Röntgen. Another great Nordic composer, Edvard Grieg, opens the album with his great Sonata No. 3 in C minor.

Frank Almond, ‘Lipiński’ Stradivari (1715)
Adam Neiman, piano
Alexander Hersh, cello
Victor Santiago Asuncion, piano

Recorded: 2 November 2019 (Grieg) & 2 June 2021 (Maier & Tartini), Guarneri Hall, Chicago
Recording Producer: Richard Walters
Recording Engineer, Mastering and Editing: Christopher Willis
Avie 2612-66 minutes

A Violin’s Life Vol. 3

GRIEG: Sonata 3; MAIER: Trio; TARTINI: Sonata 1 Frank Almond; Alexander Hersh, vc; Adam Neiman, Victor Santiago Asuncion, p.

The violin’s life that interests us here is of the “Lipinski” Stradivarius built in 1715, whose earliest recorded owner was the great virtuoso and teacher Giuseppe Tartini. As Concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony until 2020, Frank Almond was granted use of the instrument. He is also on the faculty of Roosevelt University. He has shown that his musicianship is second to none in his remarkable recordings of Brahms’s violin sonatas (March/April 1993, July /Aug 2001) and his program of sonatas by Strauss, Respighi, and Janacek (May/June 2007). Almond has shown that he can wring every ounce of feeling out of a piece and emotionally drain the listener. That is what I like about him, and he delivers in the Grieg. A blustery first movement; a romantic, songlike middle movement; and a boisterous, folk-like finale. This is one of the very finest readings of this sonata that I have heard, and Almond draws a full-throated sound from his magnificent instrument. Adam Neiman is a sensitive partner who doesn’t hide in the background. It joins two other stellar accounts by Augustin Dumay with Maria Joao Pires and Fritz Kreisler with Sergei Rachmaninoff (March/April 2000).

Swedish violinist Amanda Maier (1853-94) composed her Schumannesque Piano Trio in 1873-74. It is in four movements and lasts about half an hour and is a mature work for a 20-year-old. It is impressive and has lovely moments like the strikingly songful middle section of the Scherzo and the melancholy Andante with its long melodic lines. It is one of the best piano trios that I have heard and deserves wider exposure. I see that only one other recording of it was reviewed in ARG (Jan/Feb 2019). By the way, you might sometimes see her name given as Amanda Rontgen-Maier because she married the Dutch composer Julius Rontgen in 1880.

Almond uses piano and cello as his continuo for Tartini’s Violin Sonata 1. The choice of Tartini’s music was not random: he was the first recorded owner of the violin used in this recording. The provenance of the violin then goes to his student Salvini, and then Karol Lipinski, the first great Polish violinist. The story of how Lipinski obtained the violin is one of the weirdest in music history. Lipinski went to Milan to meet Salvini, who was quite old by this time. Greatly impressed by the young Pole’s playing, Salvini asked if he might examine his violin. With the instrument in hand, he walked over to a table and calmly smashed it to pieces. He then took his Stradivarius from its case and said, “Try this violin” and gave it to the young man. Grateful for the extraordinary gift, Lipinski still never got used to Italians. The sonata is in the slow-fast-slow-fast sonata da chiesa form that was popular at the time, and there are some lovely Italianate melodies and spritely passages here. This one of the nicer works by Tartini that I have heard. The CD comes with a fine booklet with program notes by the tremendously learned Tully Potter. Excellent sound. MAGIL

– American Record Guide