Notes and Editorial Reviews
Usually we find these much-heralded artists applying their considerable expertise in the vast world of Baroque repertoire--and in a couple of instances, in sonatas by Mozart. But this excellent recital shows how intelligent, highly accomplished musicianship and years of collaborative compatibility and experience can carry top-level performers into less-familiar territory with equal authority and success. In other words, violinist Andrew Manze and fortepianist Richard Egarr stay focused on the fundamentals--the relationship of melody to accompaniment--and apply the same performing principles that govern this relationship in Bach or Handel or Mozart to these four Schubert sonatas, which knowledgeable listeners will recognize as having sprung
boldly and unashamedly from those earlier masters' (and a few others') stylistic lexicons.
Although in respect to our modern sensibility these are youthful works (Schubert was just 19 when he wrote the first sonata in 1816), they are neither "easy" nor the slightest bit lacking in sophistication. Yes, the influences are strong, as in the opening Sonata in D major; but just when you think you've pegged Mozart squarely to this work's frame, Schubert shows that he had some ideas--particularly melodic ones--of his own. The Andante is a perfect example, its first theme as Mozartian as they come--but its entire middle section is from the unique world of Schubert's songs, and Manze's violin sings in response to this engaging melody.
In fact, among Manze's strengths here is how he draws such a rich, bronze-like viola timbre from his violin's lower register, and a silvery-sweet tone from the higher regions (although Schubert happily doesn't ever push the top end). The Andante of the G minor sonata is a highlight for its especially sensitive keyboard/violin interplay and for the sheer pleasure of Schubert's lovely music expressed by Manze's thorough mastery of his 1834 French instrument's tone and temperament.
You will notice the sound of this recording immediately--it's set in what appears to be a large space that defies the intimacy of the music. But you can be sure that this sonic perspective and character is intentional, and in fact you quickly come to relish the robust quality of both Manze's early-19th century violin and Egarr's original fortepiano (from around 1815). It's just that I'd rather not be so aware of the sound of a recording that I have to spend some time trying not to be aware of it. Nevertheless, I've listened to this disc at least a dozen times during the past week, and I have to say that before Manze and Egarr, I didn't really like these sonatas. Now, I'm not only a fan, but I'm telling you that you should be as well.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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