Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Franz Schubert; Robert Schumann - Arpeggione Sonata; Märchenbilder (Yuri Bashmet; Mikhail Muntian)


Composer: Franz Schubert; Robert Schumann; Max Bruch; George Enescu
  1. Schubert - Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D. 821: I. Allegro moderato
  2. Schubert - Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D. 821: II. Adagio
  3. Schubert - Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D. 821: III. Allegretto
  4. Schumann - Marchenbilder, Op. 113: I. Nicht schnell
  5. Schumann - Marchenbilder, Op. 113: II. Lebhaft
  6. Schumann - Marchenbilder, Op. 113: III. Rasch
  7. Schumann - Marchenbilder, Op. 113: IV. Langsam, mit melancholischem Ausdruck
  8. Schumann - Adagio & Allegro in A flat major, Op. 70
  9. Bruch - Kol Nidrei, Op. 47
  10. Enescu - Konzertstück for viola & piano

Yuri Bashmet, viola
Mikhail Muntian, piano
Date: 1990
Label: RCA



It was the sheer beauty of Yuri Bashmet's tone that first caught my ear—now as sumptuous as a cello, now as silken as a violin, as well as more pleading between those two extremes than I can recall from any other viola in recent years. And let me say at once that his wide dynamic range is very faithfully reproduced in an agreeably warm and close recording, made as recently as the spring of this year in an English church.

As an artist he breathes life into every note. This is immediately apparent in Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata, imaginatively enough timed and shaded to make nonsense of a certain late lamented professor's dismissal of the work as ''banal''. His acute response to every passing innuendo even occasionally reminded me of Rostropovich in a never-to-be-forgotten Decca recording with Britten, particularly in the opening movement. But he offers a slower Adagio and a livelier finale than they in a reading plainly wholly his own. Next Schumann—first the Marchenbilder expressly written for the viola in 1851, then the Adagio and Allegro of 1849 originally intended for the newly-developed valve-horn. All are keenly characterized and contrasted, with Mikhail Muntian at the piano showing himself as spontaneously perceptive a musician as Bashmet himself. If once or twice in the two livelier middle numbers of the Op. 113 set the keyboard might be thought over-strong, that is perhaps more the composer's fault than Muntian's. But is the heart-easing concluding piece, though admittedly marked Langsam, mit melancholischem Ausdruck, just a shade too slow to preserve its lullaby-like flow? In the Adagio of the horn work, however, Bashmet sustains his slow tempo (again slower than Rostropovich in a DG recording with Argerich) with the same fine-spun, intimate beauty of line as in Schubert's Adagio.

In Bruch's Kol nidrei, no cello could sing out the old synagogue melody with more plangency than Bashmet's viola, even if en route he slightly anticipates the un poco piu animato the composer himself reserves for the change from D minor to D major for the glowing 'after-song'. Finally Enesco's rarely-heard Konzertstuck for viola and piano (new to the Gramophone Classical Catalogue) dating from his early twenties in Paris. This for me was perhaps the gem of the recital, with both poetically impressionable artists as one in response to its fantasy and rapturous lyricism.

-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone

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Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".


Robert Schumann (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, and died in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.


Yuri Bashmet (born 24 January 1953 in Rostov-on-Don) is a Russian conductor, violinist, and violist. He was the first violist to perform a solo recital in such halls as New York's Carnegie Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Barbican in London, the Berlin Philharmonic, La Scala of Milan. Numerous modern composers have composed works especially for Yuri Bashmet or dedicated to him, including 50 viola concertos and other works. Bashmet plays a 1758 viola made by Milanese luthier Paolo Testore, which he purchased in 1972.


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