Notes and Editorial Reviews
All the virtuosity required for Weber’s intricate works, but with sensitivity, too
Reviewing one of Weber’s concerts in 1812, a critic emphasised that a key quality of his piano playing was not so much finger dexterity as a feeling for the instrument’s tonal subtleties. His piano music certainly requires virtuosity, and Mariaclara Monetti von Slawik is well in control of the brilliance and excitement (though the speed of the A flat sonata’s Presto assai comes close to testing clarity of articulation); but the style of her playing shows that her real concerns are with fluency of line, variety of colour and especially with allowing the music great rhythmic freedom. Weber is known to have favoured tempo variation within a
movement, and Slawik is very free with rubato. When it is done with her kind of sensitivity, this is very rewarding.
The D minor sonata’s first movement is made to seem almost closer to variations than to a stronger formal structure, with a particularly beguiling dolce second subject; and this is taken further in the beautiful Andante, where her sense of line and colour is well attuned to Weber’s quite intricate textures (the recording, too, is attentive to these matters). None of this prevents her from making much of the grand statements that open the works.
The Invitation to the Dance swings along nicely, with a charming lilt to the various waltz rhythms which Weber explores: they do indeed dance. There have, of course, been many other recordings of the sonatas, some which take a stand for the A flat sonata, in particular, as an altogether grander work than Slawik suggests; but her performances have a very sympathetic, even touching quality.
-- John Warrack, [Gramophone 12/2003]
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