Notes and Editorial Reviews
Most of the very few period-instrument recordings of Mozart's violin sonatas offered to date have been disappointing. The only complete cycle, performed by violinist Chiara Banchini and Temenuschka Vesselinova on pianoforte (Harmonia Mundi--long deleted), was unbearably labored, humorless, and lacking the alacrity and wit so critical to Mozart's music. Violinist Enrico Gatti's two-CD selection of six sonatas and variations (Arcana, also deleted) was stylishly more successful though it also was marred by occasional instrumental imbalances and dull sonics. In fact, until these new performances by Midori Seiler and Jos van Immerseel, only the spirited, often schmaltzy renderings of K. 205 and K.
301-304 performed by Erich Höbarth and Patrick Cohen (Astrée) have ranked with the finest modern-instrument accounts.
Already familiar with Seiler's thrilling solo work in a Telemann concerto (type Q5093 in Search Reviews) I anticipated the extraordinary here--and I was not disappointed. Rarely has Mozart's often-outlandish character and adventurous demeanor been so convincingly expressed by his music. The opening Allegro of the Sonata in F major K. 377 leaps forth with such brazen exuberance that not only is the listener made immediately aware of Mozart's theme, but with each repetition it takes on a mocking, laughing quality that's absolutely irresistible. Seiler's startling entrance into the second theme of the first movement of the Sonata in E-flat major K. 481 is also great fun. After a coy introduction Seiler plunges into a riveting near-dissonant downslide that begins a series of highly animated dialogues with Immerseel.
Equally enjoyable is how Seiler and Immerseel gradually (and strategically) accent the pensive opening of the second movement of the Sonata in E-flat major K 380, as if the seriousness of their endeavor is somehow becoming undermined by some extraneous annoyance. Pulling off subtle yet clever interpretive insights such as these are only possible when both performers are ideally suited technically as well as imaginatively, which Seiler and Immerseel clearly are. Their deft articulation, especially in the swifter movements, often is reminiscent of Glenn Gould's notoriously bold yet profoundly humorous "red light/green light" treatment of Mozart's phrasing.
Complementing these remarkable performances is Zig Zag's state of the art sound, the finest I've ever heard in a violin and fortepiano recording. Seiler and Immerseel's rhetorical, erudite notes are a joy to read. Listeners who prefer the classic modern-instrument recordings of these sonatas--Boskovsky/Krauss (EMI), Goldberg/Lupu (Decca), Grumiaux/Haskil (Philips), etc.--though perhaps wary of period-instrument pedantry, would do well to give Seiler and Immerseel a listen. [3/3/2004]
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title