MOZART Violin Sonatas: in G, K 379; in C, K 403; in F, K 377; in E?, K 481 • Catherine Mackintosh (vn); Geoffrey Govier (fp) (period instruments) • CHANDOS 0781 (75:54)
I reviewed the first three volumes of Catherine Mackintosh and Geoffrey Govier’s recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s violinRead more sonatas (the first including K 301, 303, and 302 in addition to variations on Hélas, J’ai perdu mon amant, K 360, and on La Bergère Célimène, K 359; the second including K 296, 305, 304, and 306; and the third including K 376, 378, and 526) in Fanfare 32:5, 33:4, and 34:4, respectively. The fourth volume gathers the rest of the sonatas that Mozart himself gathered to publish as his op. 2. Mackintosh again plays her 1703 Giovanni Grancino, which she’s tuned in unequal temperament to A = 430 and again employs a late 18th-century bow.
As in the first volume, the highly reverberant acoustic of the recording venue sometimes blends the sound of the two instruments, and Mackintosh, as ever, produces a tart one from her instrument. Those who found these tonal characteristics unattractive in the first volumes won’t find much relief in the fourth. But the musicians have again thought out every gesture. Consider the crescendo following the repeat in the opening Adagio of the Sonata, K 379—it could hardly fail to suggest the realization of a dramatic scheme. The Duo Amadé creates a firestorm in the ensuing Allegro, and it’s hard to imagine the composer improvising the piano part at the first performance, as the once-again informative notes by Neal Zaslaw suggest he did (although I’ve witnessed some astonishing feats of memory by gifted musicians that make Mozart’s tours de force seem more plausible). The duo collaborates closely in the set of variations that follow, but when the violin descends into its dark lower register at the end of the fourth, the bright fortepiano almost obscures it; even the pizzicato accompaniment in the fifth variation’s repeat when the keyboard plays loudly sounds better balanced.
The Sonata, K 403, remains what Zaslaw calls a “fragment”; Mozart’s student Maximilian Johann Karl Dominik Stadler completed the last 120 measures of the last movement. In the first, Mackintosh explores the lower registers of her instrument (which some may find a bit too acidulous for their taste), but the thinner piano part doesn’t obscure her figuration. Whatever tonal deficiencies aficionados of the modern violin may find in her playing, it would be hard to disapprove of her almost impudent strut or the intimacy of the exchanges between the two instruments. The brief slow movement leads to a finale full of energy, much of which, if it emanates from Stadler, may nevertheless preserve at least some of Mozart’s original inspiration.
The duo begins the Sonata, K 377 (another that contains a set of variations), with a burst of energy that sustains itself nearly unabated, though darkened in this performance, through the dramatic first movement. Mackintosh hardly allows the violin to take a back seat during the sixth of the variations, a Siciliana that seems anything but gently flowing in the duo’s reading. In the Tempo di Menuetto that concludes the sonata, Mackintosh and Govier make a great deal of the dynamic contrasts in the theme (perhaps even more than indicated).
The Sonata, K 481, yet another with a set of variations integrated into its framework, brings the program to a close (the first movement includes before its repeat of the main theme the kernel of what would become the subject of the “Jupiter” Symphony’s blockbuster contrapuntal finale). As elsewhere in the performances, Mackintosh accompanies, here in the statement of the second movement’s theme, with a vigor that may appear somewhat less than discreet, but she brings real pathos to the flowing violin solo that follows. Govier makes the rapid notes of the fifth variation in the set rumble and provides an immediate contrast in the more silvery opening of the sixth.
As before, it’s only fair to warn listeners that these aren’t smoothly suave readings like those of Arthur Grumiaux (celebrated) or Nathan Milstein; but for those who have appreciated the probing intelligence and energy of the first three volumes of the duo’s collection, this fourth one should be equally appealing. Very strongly recommended to those special audiences.
More pleasureMay 15, 2012By Henry R. (North Brunswick, NJ)See All My Reviews"I can only repeat what I said about volume 2 of the Mozart Duo Sonatas, and if asked, would say the same for volumes 1, 3 and 5.
Not much of a review, but then my only musical skill is turning on the amplifier and CD player and then sitting back to enjoy this wonderful music. "Report Abuse