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Late Dates with Mozart: Three Late Sonatas for Piano and Violin - Sonata in B-flat, K.454; Sonata in E-flat, K.481; Sonata in A major, K.526

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Audio CD, December 7, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Mozart s relationship to the violin sonata can be traced to the first years of his career as a child prodigy; his first four opuses were collections of violin sonatas in the Italian style, published in Paris starting in 1764 when the composer was just eight years old. Of course, by this time Mozart was already an experienced touring violinist and these early works were probably intended for his own performances. The sonatas represented on this disc are from much later in the composer s career, long after his child celebrity days had ended, beginning when the composer as a not yet 30-year-old man was just another struggling musician competing for the limited opportunities available in Europe. Mozart had spent much of the 1770s searching for better employment than he had at the provincial court of Salzburg, where he found it difficult fulfilling his duties for church and court. His continual begging for dismissal from his employer there, the Archbishop Colloredo, ultimately paid off and he finally settled in Vienna as an independent musician in 1781. One of the first things he did after establishing himself in Vienna was to publish a set of violin sonatas. His profile was rising as a composer, but he was primarily known during these years as a virtuoso keyboard player, competing in and reputedly winning a contest played before the Emperor Joseph II in 1782 against the famous Italian Muzio Clementi.

Stephanie Sant Ambrogio joined the Argenta Trio in 2007 when she was appointed Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola, and Director of the Orchestral Career Studies Program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony for thirteen years, and Founder and Artistic Director of the nationally acclaimed Cactus Pear Music Festival, Ms. Sant Ambrogio was previously the First Assistant Principal Second Violin of The Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnanyi. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada, Estonia, Sweden, Ghana, Italy, Chile, Peru and Mexico. She is a frequent guest at summer music festivals in North America and is Concertmaster of the Lancaster Festival Orchestra under Maestro Gary Sheldon. She is devoted to teaching serious young violinists, many of whom have successfully chosen careers in music. Ms. Sant Ambrogio studied with and was the graduate assistant to Donald Weilerstein at The Eastman School of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree. She received her Bachelor of Music degree with distinction from Indiana University as a scholarship student of James Buswell and Laurence Shapiro. Ms. Sant Ambrogio plays a 1757 J.B. Guadagnini violin from Milan.

James Winn, piano and composition professor at the University of Nevada, Reno since 1997, performs widely in North America, Europe, and Japan. Dr. Winn has been a solo pianist with the New York City Ballet, a member of New York New Music Ensemble, and a frequent guest with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Speculum, the Group for Contemporary Music, and Bargemusic among others. Well-known as a champion of new music, he has been involved in numerous world premieres and premiere recordings by many renowned composers, among them 13 Pulitzer Prize winners. He is currently a member of the Argenta Trio, UNR s resident chamber group, the pianist of the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, and performs regularly in recital with internationally acclaimed New York-based violinist Rolf Schulte. An active recording artist, Winn is featured in more than three dozen CDs as soloist, chamber musician and composer. Dr. Winn is a prolific composer whose compositions have been performed internationally.

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Product Details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (December 7, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: MSR Classics
  • ASIN: B00305W8XO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,059 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Gary J. Meyer on December 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Like the Geza Anda 17th and 21st Piano Concertos, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields 40th Symphony, and the Academy of Ancient Music Requiem, these exquisite performances belong in the very top rank of recorded Mozart. Deeply felt and luminously interpreted, they abound in both emotional nuance and sonic splendor.

The performers' effortless virtuosity is never employed for its own sake, or for theirs, but always serves the music. Violinist Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio produces a brilliant yet full, rich tone, immaculate attack and release, and the expressiveness of a great vocalist. Pianist James Winn possesses the remarkable abilities to compel absolute attention to even the simplest phrase and to spin out passage work into a continuous line of astounding length, in addition to his rhythmic audacity and improvised ornamentation.

Virtuosity here is a means to evoke the music's emotional meaning -- the full range of Mozart's mercurial moods. This aspect is what makes these performances so compelling. From playful humor to poignant lyricism, often shifting with kaleidoscopic rapidity, these witty, sophisticated interpretations capture every color in Mozart's palette.

This is full-blooded, romantic Mozart evoked with such spontaneous joy, delight, and insight that you feel you're hearing it for the first time. Elegant, exultant, and ecstatic, these performances are a revelation.
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