Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Franz Schubert - Violin Sonata; Rondeau brilliant; Fantasia (Isabelle Faust; Alexander Melnikov)


Composer: Franz Schubert
  1. Fantasie in C major, for violin & piano, D. 934: I. Andante molto
  2. Fantasie in C major, for violin & piano, D. 934: II. Allegretto
  3. Fantasie in C major, for violin & piano, D. 934: III. Andantino
  4. Fantasie in C major, for violin & piano, D. 934: IV. Allegro vivace
  5. Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574: I. Allegro moderato
  6. Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574: II. Scherzo. Presto
  7. Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574: III. Andantino
  8. Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574: IV. Allegro vivace
  9. Rondeau brilliant in B minor, for violin & piano, D. 895: I. Andante
  10. Rondeau brilliant in B minor, for violin & piano, D. 895: II. Allegro

Isabelle Faust, violin
Alexander Melnikov, piano
Date: 2006
Label: Harmonia Mundi



In nearly every respect this is outstanding. The Rondo and the Fantasie, both written for the virtuoso duo of Karl von Bocklet and Josef Slawik, can sound as if Schubert were striving for a brilliant, flashy style, foreign to his nature. Both are in places uncomfortable to play (when first published, the Fantasie’s violin part was simplified), but you would never guess this from Faust’s and Melnikov’s performance; they both nonchalantly toss off any problem passages as though child’s play.

The Fantasie’s finale and the Rondo are irresistibly lively and spirited, and this duo’s technical finesse extends to more poetic episodes – Melnikov’s tremolo at the start of the Fantasie shimmers delicately, while the filigree passagework in the last of the variations that form the Fantasie’s centrepiece have a delightful poise and sense of ease.

The Sonata’s more intimate style is captured just as convincingly; in all three performances Faust and Melnikov observe Schubert’s often very detailed, careful expression marks, not as a matter of duty, but as a stimulus to the imagination, as a way of entering more deeply into the music.

My one slight reservation concerns Isabelle Faust’s manner of expression. She makes the most of any passionate phrases and is equally convincing at cool, mysterious or dreamlike moments. But the lyrical phrases in the Rondo’s introduction surely demand a more heartfelt utterance. In the Sonata, too, there are places where one longs for something of Fritz Kreisler’s warm personality (Naxos). This quibble aside, it’s a lovely disc, one to listen to over and over again.

-- Duncan Druce, 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".


Isabelle Faust (born 1972 in Esslingen) is a German violinist. She trained with Christoph Poppen and Dénes Zsigmondy. She won First Prize in the 1993 Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy. Since 1996, she has performed on the "Sleeping Beauty" Stradivarius violin of 1704, on loan from Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. Faust has performed as guest soloist with most of the world's major orchestras and won multiple awards for her recordings, mostly on Harmonia Mundi.


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