Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas: in D
K 306 (300l);
K 304 (300c);
K 379 (373a)
Sergei Filchenko (vn); Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya (fp) (period instruments)
CARO MITIS 0042007 (SACD: 65:16)
Sergei Filchenko and Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya’s readings of Mozart’s violin sonatas combine the timbres of
period instruments with what’s tempting to describe as Slavic intensity. In the concerto-like Allegro con spirito of the Sonata in D Major, they not only heighten the brilliance of the opening passages but manage to underline the movement’s fleeting pathos. Filchenko’s violin sounds alternatively reedy and flutelike, sweet-toned and without more than a hint of abrasiveness (a photograph shows it fitted with gut strings and without the neck of a Baroque instrument); it complements the bright and crisp clatter of Nepomnayshchaya’s instrument, a contrast that shows itself in the Andantino cantabile that follows. There, the violin holds together lines that, because of the keyboard’s lack of sustaining power, might otherwise have sounded almost detached. In the movement’s declamatory passages, however, Nepomnyashchaya and Filchenko answer each other without serving as foils. The finale’s shifting meters (which the notes describe as characteristic of the concertos) provide a framework on which the duo drapes a rich timbral imagination. The instrumentalists’ obviously strong sense of the sonata’s monumental character justifies its length—in this case, nearly half the entire program’s length.
Unlike Mutter, who took such a lethargic tempo in the E-Minor Sonata, Filchenko and Nepomnyashchaya take its Allegro somewhat briskly, exhibiting no tendency to linger to milk from it an anachronistic romantic sensibility. The reedy quality of Filchenko’s violin imparts an unusual plaintiveness to the melodic material nonetheless; it does so even in the Allegro during passages in which he accompanies with only a single interjected note and continues to do so in the Tempo di Menuetto.
In the opening Adagio of the G-Major Sonata, the dialogue in Filchenko and Nepomnyashchaya’s performance grows more reflective, though they relieve its darkness in the ensuing Allegro and its almost hypnotic repetitions, which they make sound impertinent. In the theme and variations of the final movement, they seem as effective in the most impassioned moments as they do in the lighter, more graceful variations.
In general, these readings have little in common with the kind of sophisticated but cool elegance that Arthur Grumiaux brought to Mozart (a gallant congeniality that served as a benchmark for many later performances). Though not excessively brooding, they don’t pull back from the emotional squalls that crop up in even the earliest of these three works. The recorded sound (I listened to the program in its CD format), close and detailed, transmits equally the complementary sounds of the violin and keyboard.
Filchenko’s and Nepomnyashchaya’s program of Mozart sonatas will be of particular interest to those wishing to sample the development of the period-instrument movement in Russia; among those, listeners who don’t find its period timbres monochromatic compared to modern ones with the piano’s more varied articulation and the violin’s wider palette of expressive nuances should find it most satisfying. Recommended primarily, though not exclusively, to those groups of listeners.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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