Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas: in A,
Dmitry Sitkovetsky (vn); Antonio Pappano (pn)
HÄNNSLER CD 98.251 (69:36)
Perhaps the only violinists who haven’t issued sets of Mozart’s violin sonatas this year are the dead ones. Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s very much alive, and
so, too, his performances. His program in “Volume 1” of Hännsler Classics’s collection of the sonatas begins with a bubbling, energetic performance of the Sonata in A, K 305. Sitkovetsky may not play on a period instrument (although his violin sounds reedy enough in the lower registers to have been fitted with gut strings), but he draws a highly nuanced tone with what seems to be a modern bow. That brings myriad compositional details to life, not only in the first movement’s passagework but also in the second movement’s theme and variations—so many, in fact, that the performances have rendered the equipment’s provenance unimportant. The Sonata in E?, K 380, comes second on the program. Pappano shares Sitkovetsky’s piquant sense of the Sonata’s first movement. And the duo’s exuberance transcends the timbral: their rhythmic zest, both from measure to measure and in the rapid but not rushed tempos they’ve adopted underlies the bright instrumental sounds they produce. Yet strong contrasts heighten much of the movement’s drama. Pappano’s sensitivity to the subtle as well as to the grand reveals itself with special clarity from the second movement’s very first phrases. The duo’s shared swirling figuration in the finale generates a great deal of excitement without drawing attention to itself as ostentatious virtuosity. The engineers have balanced the recorded sound, just as the instrumentalists have balanced the performances. Dynamic contrasts emphasize the dramatic cast in the Sonata, K 304, Mozart’s only one for violin written in a minor key, though no overwrought emotion disturbs the listener’s attention. On the contrary, Sitkovetsky and Pappano draw a dark veil over the music without making their efforts obvious. Their second movement sounds wistfully introspective. They conclude the program with Mozart’s Sonata, K 454, written for Regina Strinasacchi; in this work they contrast energetic aplomb in the outer movements with thoughtful, though not academically philosophical, reflection in the slow one.
For those who prefer unostentatious yet buoyant expressivity in Mozart’s violin sonatas, Sitkovetsky and Pappano represent a strong choice. They’re neither so elegant as Arthur Grumiaux and Clara Haskil nor so much given to finesses as Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (on Deutsche Grammophon B0007 102-02, a four-CD set, recorded live in Munich in February 2006), but they combine the best qualities, though not all of the qualities, of each of those duos. In her interview for
(which was published in March/April 2007, Vol. 30:4), Mutter noted that she encountered Mozart first in his concertos. Most violinists play them—as well as a handful of the sonatas. This year, many have discovered the rest; and violinists like Sitkovetsky have reveled in the opportunities they provide for fresh approaches. Recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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