Schumann: Violin Sonatas
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Schumann: Violin Sonatas
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Ondine is pleased to announce the second chamber music recording with violinist Christian Tetzlaff, featuring his long time musical partner pianist Lars Vogt. With the selection of these violin sonatas for violin and piano by Robert Schumann (1810-1856) the artists show the development of the composer, including the third sonata that was neglected for a long time after Schumann's death and only premiered in 1956.
"Christian Tetzlaff, more than any other violinist around today, is utterly attuned to Schumann's idiom in these later works." --Harriett Smith, Gramophone Choice, January 2014
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Tetzlaff won praise and awards for a recording of the three piano trios released in 2011, and my reaction to this new release of the three violin sonatas (composed between 1851 and 1853) is akin to the one I had then. There are beautiful moments, especially in the first two sonatas, but Schumann's estate was right to worry - structure is loose, developments rhapsodic to the point of feeling aimless at times, and the melodies far below Schumann's best. For me, this music is too simple overall to add to the reputation of a great composer. At 19 min. and 17 min. respectively, the first and third sonatas perhaps sustain their invention, but the four-movement second sonata is 32 min. long, a length justified mainly by its many peculiarities.
The best I can say is that Romanticism saw madness as being next to inspiration - a somewhat cruel view when you consider mental disorders from a medical standpoint - and the weird and wild opening of Sonata no. 2 could be justified that way. Argerich and friends are wilder in a live reading from the Lugano Festival on EMI, compared to which Lars Vogt's pianism feels fairly restrained. But he and Tetzlaff are among the elite of current German musicians, and there's no criticism to offer of their performances - for the Gramophone to name this CD the Recording of the Month can't be argued against.
The best way to approach late Schumann is to fully absorb yourself into each score, one at a time, and then either accept or reject the musical idiom he wound up with, wildness, looseness, oddness, and feebleness combined.