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Mozart: Violinsonaten

Mozart / Irnberger / Badura-skoda
Release Date: 01/11/2011 
Label:  Gramola   Catalog #: 98904   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-SkodaThomas Albertus Irnberger
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Violin Sonatas: in F, K 376; in B?, K 454; in E? , K 380 (374f) Thomas Albertus Irnberger (vn); Paul Badura-Skoda (fp) (period instruments) GRAMOLA 98904 (SACD: 60:41)

The violin and fortepiano upon which Thomas Albertus Irnberger and Paul Badura-Skoda play their program of three sonatas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart qualify Read more as more than “period instruments”: Mozart himself preferred a piano by Anton Walter and owned a violin made by Jacobus Stainer in 1656. Irnberger plays a 1656 Stainer, and Badura-Skoda, a Walter Hammerflügel . The timbres of these instruments, the clarity of the recorded sound, and the crisp approach of Irnberger and Badura-Skoda contribute to an overall energy and transparency that transcend the period-performance ethos narrowly received. Yet Irnberger’s tone seems as commanding—and nearly as opulent—in the lower registers as one produced on a modern instrument, and in the first movement of K 376, he makes a great deal of the marked dynamic contrasts. In the second movement, he sings sweetly, dividing the steady 16th-note patterns into coherent—and cogent—groupings (Badura-Skoda doesn’t always follow him in this). Badura-Skoda leads off the final movement with piquant pluck enhanced by the timbre of his instrument. In the rest of the movement, their dialogue consistently draws the listener into their conversation.

If K 454, seems concerto-like (there’s a remote similarity, perhaps, between the theme of the first Allegro, with its ascending scale, and the theme of the First Concerto’s concluding Rondo), the exchanges between the violin and keyboard keep it well within the domain of chamber music, and Irnberger’s and Badura-Skoda’s performance help it remain there. Through this movement, Irnberger’s command in passages that begin on, or feature, the G string (plenty of them occur here) belie the stereotype of Stainer’s violins as being restricted in projection. The duo sounds elegant if plaintive in the Allegretto finale’s opening (although their mood generally brightens as the movement progresses).

In the duo’s performance, K 380 makes an even more serious statement, raising as they do its commanding opening chords and its insistent closing-like theme to a high level of expressive intensity. They infuse the almost aching slow movement (in G Minor) with sobbing poignancy. Although Irnberger’s booklet notes emphasize the joyful side of the finale, his reading retains, especially in the C-Minor episode, some of the slow movement’s stormier passion.

Arthur Grumiaux’s way with Mozart’s violin sonatas may be definitive in their own way, but period-performance practitioners like Andrew Manze have opened new vistas in them (his recording with Richard Egarr playing fortepiano, Harmonia Mundi HMU 907380, Fanfare 32:4, includes the K 380 Sonata). Those who appreciate Manze’s imaginative manner of charting the unknown may prefer his reading of the sonata in which he and Irnberger overlap, but, despite the seductive timbral beauty of Egarr’s Zahler fortepiano from 1800, his performances and Irnbergers possess enough similarities that those who enjoyed Manze and Egarr should feel confident in investigating Irnberger and Badura-Skoda. In any case Irnberger and Badura-Skoda’s readings of Mozart’s sonatas traverse a wide emotional range, which they investigate rather than simply stopping at the comfortable limits of their own musical personalities. This probing reflects the scholarly probing of Irnberger’s notes. Recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano in F major, K 376 (374d) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda (Piano), Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Saal Schweighofer, Salzburg 
Length: 19 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in B flat major, K 454 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Paul Badura-Skoda (Piano), Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Saal Schweighofer, Salzburg 
Length: 22 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat major, K 380 (374f) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Thomas Albertus Irnberger (Violin), Paul Badura-Skoda (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Saal Schweighofer, Salzburg 
Length: 18 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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