SCHUBERT: Sonatas for Violin and Piano Nos. 1, 2, 3 and Op. 162 – Richard Egarr, fortepiano; Andrew Manze, violin – Harmonia mundi

by | Jan 14, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

SCHUBERT: Sonatas for Violin and Piano Nos. 1, 2, 3 and Op. 162 – Richard Egarr, fortepiano; Andrew Manze, violin – Harmonia mundi  CD – HMU 907445, 79 mins. ***** :

Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr are a formidable duo, with many excellent albums to their credit that thus far have been focused on the Baroque repertory they unquestionably master. So it behooves me to question why they might wander from such comfortable territory into the world of Franz Schubert. These are, however, relatively early Schubert sonatas, with the earliest dating from Schubert’s nineteenth year, while much of his work still showed a heavy influence of Mozart – so perhaps these pieces aren’t such a stretch, after all. And when the music-making is as superb as from this pair – well, why question their motives, anyway!

Schubert was such an incredibly prolific composer – especially in terms of chamber music – and the excellent liner notes from violinist Andrew Manze give a great deal of light to Schubert’s compositional process. Apparently, he got up every day and wrote music, moving like clockwork from one composition to the next, seemingly effortlessly. According to Manze, Schubert’s manuscripts show none of the frenetic scrawling so common with Beethoven and other composers of the day, and his written notation seems deceptively simple, perhaps even naïve. The melodies are, however, filled with a wealth of deep emotion, and Manze and Egarr’s baroque approach to these sonatas brings this forth in abundance.

The Red Book CD recording is extraordinary in all respects, and the church recording offers an excellent representation of the recorded acoustic, even for such an otherwise intimate affair as this chamber recital. I’ve never been a huge fan of the fortepiano, but I have absolutely no quibbles here; the instrument offers an exceptionally full-bodied sound, Egarr’s mastery of the instrument is complete, and the recording and performances are first-rate. Very entertaining, and very highly recommended!

– Tom Gibbs

 

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