Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonatas: in C,
Variations in g,
François Fernandez (vn); Boyan Vodenitcharov (fp) (period instruments)
FLORA 0906 (62:39)
Violinist François Fernandez (playing an Andrea Guarneri from 1670) and pianist Boyan Vodenitcharov (playing
a fortepiano made in 1980 by Chris Maene after one by Andreas Stein from 1785) have assembled a program of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works for violin and piano, three of them familiar sonatas, and a set of variations. Fernandez produces a rich, ingratiating tone (neither shriveled nor coarse) from his instrument in the opening movement of the sonata, K 303, but he also digs into the movement’s sharply articulated passages with gutty resonance—and he trains a spotlight on those more aggressive timbres in the
Tempo di minuetto
that follows. Vodenitcharov plays with an energy that complements Fernandez’s, although his instrument sounds as bright as Fernandez’s does dark. In fact, the amber viola-like richness of Fernandez’s Guarneri contributes to a texture that some may find unfamiliarly dusky in the opening movement of the sonata, K 378, a popular quasi-chestnut favored by violinists as diverse as Arthur Grumiaux and Jascha Heifetz. That’s not to say that his brightness in the higher registers doesn’t match Vodenitcharov’s, or that the general
seems in any way dialed down, as in Anne-Sophie Mutter’s reading of the E-Minor sonata, K 304. And the dialogue in the middle of the first movement storms to dramatic heights. The slow movement provides opportunities for the duo to engage in an ardent exchange during the middle section; in the framing sections, they combine sensitivity with strong accentuation. The finale sounds bright, and the recorded sound helps by bringing them close up—even allowing a sort of snort for breath before the program’s first note to serve as an unwritten upbeat.
The variations, K 360 (on an
), begin in the lower register that Fernandez’s violin favors, and the duo finds congenial material throughout, as in the second variation, which resembles the theme expressively. Vodenitcharov takes the lead confidently in the third and fourth. The violin assumes greater leadership in the sonata, K 454, singing and spinning figurations over a relatively simple accompaniment in the opening
and even in the ensuing
. The instrumentalists share the thematic material in the
, but the violin takes the lead in presenting it. In this lyrical movement, Fernandez remains largely in the middle register, but the occasional dips into the lower regions, particularly those in the movement’s central sections, provide lots of congenial shadows in which to lurk timbrally. The sectional structure of the finale allows Fernandez and Vodenitcharov to play off light against dark, and they make the most of the almost Haydn-like surprises.
For those who wish to explore the sound of Mozart’s sonatas on period instruments, these performances might illuminate some hitherto explored tonal territories (beyond those that mere lower pitch opens up). They offer an alternative to the slightly more straightforward but bracing energy of the Duo Amadé (Catherine Mackintosh and Geoffrey Govier) on period instruments, as well as to the super-refined elegance of Arthur Grumiaux and Clara Haskil (a choice that has become available again on Decca 412 253) on modern ones. Recommended therefore to experimenters but with equal enthusiasm to more mainstream listeners as well.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Violin and Piano in B flat major, K 454 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
François Fernandez (Violin),
Boyan Vodenicharov (Fortepiano)
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 06/2006
Length: 21 Minutes 16 Secs.
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