…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”.
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.
Dutch violinist Janine Jansen presents a new album coupling two of the most heart-felt masterpieces of the Viennese romantic repertoire. Schubert’s last and greatest chamber work, the sublime String Quintet in C major, is contrasted with the young Schoenberg’s earliest masterpiece, Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night).
Fusing the talents of Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, and the California Guitar Trio, you'd be wrong to assume that The Bridge Between is a boring album of guitar aerobics for guitar enthusiasts. This is a wonderful piece of work. Its most dubious attribute is to sometimes descend into Sky (the Anglo-Australian outfit formed by John Williams, Francis Monkman etc) territory in its medieval harpsichord delivery ("Passacaglia," "Contrapunctus"). However "Kanon Power" and standouts "Bicycling to Afghanistan" and "Blockhead" are fretboard knitted excellence. Unfortunately, the latter two are separated by a five-minute downbeat – "Blue" – and the set is spoiled by a near-13-minute endgame "Threnody for Souls in Torment," which would be better placed elsewhere. None the less, you can always hit the stop button after "Passacaglia" or better, stick "Afghan" and "Blockhead" on repeat!
The sixth volume in Matthias Goerne's survey of Franz Schubert's lieder includes the posthumous collection Schwanengesang, which contains some of the loveliest and most disturbing songs Schubert ever composed. One problem in performing this ambiguous work of Schubert's last year lies in its alternation of sweet, lyrical songs with those of a much darker and even frightening character, and it's left to the singer and the pianist to balance the moods and to make the contrasts of expression as subtle as possible. Goerne and his accompanist Christoph Eschenbach meet the challenge by carefully shading the songs with a tempering of expressions that admits sorrow in the midst of joy and hope in the depths of despair.