MOZART: Sonatas for Violin and Piano: F Major, K. 377; C Major, K. 303; E Minor, K. 304; A Major, K. 526 – Mark Steinberg, violin/ Mitsuko Uchida, piano – Philips

by | Sep 20, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Sonatas for Violin and Piano: F Major, K. 377; C Major,
K. 303; E Minor, K. 304; A Major, K. 526 – Mark Steinberg, violin/
Mitsuko Uchida, piano – Philips multichannel SACD 475 6200 
70:33  (Distrib. Universal)****:

Here is a happy collaboration of two eminently sympathetic artists in
the music of Mozart, captured in poignant sound at the Snape/Maltings
Concert Hall 28 June-1 July 2004. The immediacy of their energetic,
balanced interaction is palpable from the outset of the F Major Sonata,
K. 377, a bubbling, virtuosic work whose outer-movement charms first
affected me from the hands of Szigeti and Horszowski two generations
ago. The second movement theme and variations has several minor key
episodes which adumbrate the C Minor Piano Concerto. The splendid runs
in the piano, particularly in surround sound, give the impression that
Uchida’s alternately light and throbbing Steinway has, unbeknownst to
you, been moved behind your right ear.

The Tempo di menuetto from the C Major Sonata, K. 303 makes an for a
newly-discovered nugget; in fact, the whole piece cannot quite decide
whether its galanteries prefer the lyric opera stage or the more
instrumental acrobatics of the concerto format. The E Minor Sonata,
like all of Mozart’s blatantly minor-key compositions, has a severe,
often bitter cast even as it sings with tender resignation. Mozart’s
beloved mother had died just prior to its writing, and the eerie
opening chords might well have served for the valedictory sound Brahms
wanted for his own Fourth Symphony. Though in two movements, the scale
of the piece is huge; and the sober, intricate development section
could easily pass as the Beethoven of the Op. 30 sonatas. Pomp and
verve yield here to emotional outbursts against tragic fate, with 
sudden sforzati in the violin which pulsate with personal anguish.

The yearning becomes more distilled in the Tempo di menuetto, a
danceless dirge whose E Major trio has a touch of Eternity in it. The
late style of the K. 526 is transparent and aerial, yet it relies on
asymmetries of all kinds, a subtle chromaticism and leaping, motivic
impetus that captured “pianist” George Szell’s fancy enough to motivate
two inscriptions – one with Szigeti, the other with Rafael Druian.
Violinist Steinberg packs a light hand and consistently sizzling, suave
technique and wonderful, clean intonation. The long, lean lines he
spins out can swagger or sigh, as he deems fit. Working with one of our
modern Mozartians in Uchida, he provides us a series of rapt
performances of music as elegant as it is inspired. Surprisingly warm
and intimate sound from a company that sports acoustic brightness as a
trademark.

–Gary Lemco

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