Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G,
Violin Sonata No. 1 in a,
Jennifer Pike (vn); Tom Poster (pn)
CHANDOS 10762 (54:27)
Brahms’s sonatas for piano and violin, as they are designated, come in the latter part of his career,
the first one finished in 1878. Calum MacDonald’s fine notes suggest that the notoriously self-critical Brahms may have written at least two more before then and destroyed them. Though I am quite fond of Brahms’s music in general, I have never warmed to The First Sonata. That said, I think it gets better as it moves along.
Schumann’s popular 1851 Sonata, on the other hand, is heart-on-sleeve stuff and encourages the players to let go. The first movement gathers momentum after its moody opening, the short second is a kind-of scherzo, and the third a dash cheerful romp. Clara Schumann’s
is almost the only thing she wrote for piano and violin, and it makes an adequate filler on this still-short program, but I would rather have had Robert’s Second Sonata, as well.
There is much I like about Jennifer Pike’s playing: It is clean and unfussy and she has an enviable
that still holds the tone, especially to be heard in the second movement. And yet, I find her approach in the Brahms sonata rather cool, perhaps restrained is closer to the mark. When she gets to Robert Schumann’s sonata, however, it’s a different story. She relishes its low, searching, opening: There is some real passion here. In the second movement, her playing gets more generous, and she reads it almost as a comic monolog, while the third scoots along as a sort-of catch-me-if-you-can, and it is clear that she and Tom Poster are having a great deal of fun. Clara Schumann’s modest romances get a caressing performance.
This program has, as may be expected, considerable competition, though none as a complete program. There are at least 138 other recordings of the Brahms sonata, more than 70 of the Robert Schumann sonata, and 20 of Clara Schumann’s romances. In 36:1, Jerry Dubins was enthusiastic about the recording of Brahms’s sonata by Anthony Marwood and Aleksandar Madžar (Wigmore Hall Live), and in 35:6, Steven E. Ritter much liked the Schumann sonatas of Ulf Wallin and Roland Pöntinen (BIS), In 36:1, Lynn René Bayley liked the Clara Schumann romances performed by Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos (Centaur). That all said, this is a rewarding program and I can recommend this disc especially for the Schumann sonata.
FANFARE: Alan Swanson
Works on This Recording
Romances (3) for Violin and Piano, Op. 22 by Clara Wieck Schumann
Jennifer Pike (Violin),
Tom Poster (Piano)
Written: 1853; Germany
Venue: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk
Length: 11 Minutes 12 Secs.
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