Notes and Editorial Reviews
Schubert’s complete works for violin and piano consist of three “sonatinas” Op. 137 Nos. 1-3 (D. 384, 385 and 408), Rondo Brillant D. 895, the Duo D. 574, and the amazing late Fantasia in D major D. 934. Because these do not quite fill two CDs, Volume 2 includes the Fantasia in F minor for piano duet, with Julia Fischer taking the second piano part. She’s obviously a tremendously gifted artist as the performance is an excellent one in every respect, and you’d never guess that one of the players is not a professional pianist.
That said, it’s the violin and piano works that constitute the principal attraction, and I include both discs together because I can’t imagine anyone interested
in one not wanting the other as well. The three sonatinas are not, in fact, all that small, especially the latter two, which have four substantial movements apiece. Like everything Schubert wrote they are melodically generous and lovely from beginning to end. The D. 574 is more ambitious still, and by the time we get to the Fantasia we are talking about miracles. These performances are stupendous: perfectly balanced dialogs between two vibrant young personalities, ideally recorded in a warm acoustic space. There’s no need to say more: just get these discs.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
As with any work by a composer who barely lived into his thirties, the Op. 137 Violin Sonatas (Sonatinas) of Franz Schubert are clearly early works. Written at the tender age of 19, however, these three sonatas are especially youthful even for Schubert. The opening movement of the D major Sonata is entirely Mozartian, and is forever compared to the K. 304 Sonata. Whether an homage or imitation, Schubert at once proves that he is capable of working in the strictly classical tradition before moving directly into the rest of Op. 137 with more trademark "Schubertian" characteristics. Performing these three sonatas on this PentaTone Classics SACD are violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Martin Helmchen. As her many previous successful albums have already demonstrated, Fischer is a force to be reckoned with. From the first note of the album, her Guadagnini violin sings forth with an impossibly pure, clear, beautiful tone that few can achieve. Her intonation is flawless throughout the disc, and her considerable technical skills back up her keen musical understanding of Schubert's score and delivery of precisely what is on the page free from unnecessary and undesirable affectations. The collaboration with Helmchen is one of seamless understanding and fluidity. Helmchen's touch is as sensitive and graceful as Fischer's, and the two together produce an entirely beautiful soundscape filled with moving dynamics, precise articulation, and sublime balance. The disc concludes with the much later and considerably darker B minor Rondo, Op. 70, which contrasts nicely with the less intense Op. 137 Sonatas. PentaTone's sound is spacious and inviting, and those listening in multichannel mode will enjoy the sensation of sitting right between Fischer and Helmchen.
-- All Music Guide
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