Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas Nos. 1–3
Jennifer Frautschi (vn); John Blacklow (pn)
ALBANY 1493 (66:56)
This album is titled
Schumann: Two Three Sonatas for Violin and Piano,
the strikeout of “two” a reference to the fact that the much lesser-known Third Sonata is included on this disc. Completed the year before he went into the mental hospital from which he never returned, Schumann originally wrote the second and fourth movements (according to the notes) as
part of a joint work with Johannes Brahms and Albert Dietrich, titled the “F-A-E” Sonata and dedicated to their mutual friend Joseph Joachim (the letters stand for Joachim’s personal motto, “Frei aber einsam” or “Free but lonely”). Schumann then wrote two more movements to make a complete sonata of his own. The notes explain that because this Third Sonata is similar in texture and development to the Second, it is not often played, but the duo insists that this Third Sonata “is even wilder in mood,” particularly the last two movements.
Although I was not particularly thrilled by the over-boomy sonics of this disc, nothing the engineers could do dampened the spirits of Frautschi and Blacklow. They really get this music, and because of this they deliver performances with both finesse and passion. Not one phrase goes by without some detail striking the listener, and the best part of it is that none of this sounds forced or artificial in feeling. Personally, I found the first two sonatas a bit over-Romantic in feeling and less interesting as music than many of the composer’s piano works, songs, or symphonies, but your reaction may differ.
An excellent recording, then, of so-so Schumann.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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