…An exceptionally interesting chamber music record that allows a dynamic and original young musician to produce himself in very elegant company indeed!
This collection of works for cello and piano, with Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata as its centrepiece, sees Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley paying tribute to two towering musicians of the 20th century, Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten, who recorded all four of the works on the programme: Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata, Debussy’s Cello Sonata, Schumann’s Fünf Stücke im Volkston and Britten’s own Cello Sonata in five movements, which received its first performance at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1961, two years after composer and cellist had first met. “It is a magnificent piece,” says Gautier Capuçon of the Britten, “and too rarely played as far as I’m concerned. I grew up with Britten’s children’s opera The Little Sweep, so I am well acquainted with his language.” Moreover, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth.
The highly anticipated new recording from the Gramophone Recording of the Year winners in 2011. Two years on from their award winning Dvorak album, the Pavel Haas Quartet turn their attention to Schubert’s two late masterpiece. The String Quartet in D minor has a sort of dark cipher encoded within. The title “Death and the Maiden” reflects the quotation from Schubert’s eponymous song in the second movement. The theme of death is also underlined by other quotations and the choice of the key of D minor, which according to the period definition is characterised by “heavy-hearted womanliness, spleen and foreboding”.
One of the distinguishing features of Schubert's C major Quintet is its scoring for two cellos instead of the more usual two violas. It seems likely that Boccherini's and Georges Onslow's preference for the second cello influenced Schubert's choice of this instrumentation, whose greater expressiveness and richer sonority are particularly suited to this music.
It would be difficult to imagine a finer account of this extraordinary work than that of the Melos Quartet and their distinguished guest. The flow of the music is magnificently sustained, its colour and inner life marvellously felt. There is a spontaneity to the playing that perfectly complements the profound whimsicality of Schubert's journeys to remote tonal regions, along with a sensitivity ideally suited to the meditative quality of the composer's lyricism. The recording is warm and spacious, richly nuanced, and admirably balanced.
As a musician, as a man of ideals, and as a true world citizen, Yehudi Menuhin made an extraordinary mark on his era. The Menuhin Century commemorates the 100th anniversary of his birth on 22 April 1916.