Mozart: Violin Sonatas (spurious): Auernhammer Sonatas; K454; K526

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm
WORKS: Violin Sonatas (spurious): Auernhammer Sonatas; K454; K526
PERFORMER: Anton Steck (violin); Robert Hill (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 620 0804-2
Henryk Szeryng and Ingrid Haebler are incisive and stylish in this selection of Mozart’s mature works for violin and piano. In the ‘Auernhammer’ sonatas, their breezy elegance is finely judged, the playing light yet muscular, and Haebler’s transparency of texture and sensitive pedalling is breathtaking, particularly in the restrained tenderness of the Andante of K380. Szeryng treats the slow movements with a rather syrupy tone, but his delicacy of touch ensures that it is never overpowering. The richly varied and complex inventions of the late sonatas are supremely beautiful; both players shade every detail of the fantastic textural contrasts in the Allegro of K454, while Szeryng’s long-limbed phrases in the Andante of K526 are exemplary.

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Some shamelessly misleading packaging brands Anton Steck and Robert Hill’s disc ‘Mozart sonatas for violin and piano’; they are in fact a set of sonatas ascribed to Mozart until this century, but now accepted to have been written by Schuster, Eberl or Hummel. Nevertheless, they are charming enough. Composed in the early 1770s, they reflect the Viennese style of the day, with the violin taking an accompanying role, and their carefree character is thrown off balance by bold dynamic contrasts and outlandish syncopations. Steck and Hill, performing on period instruments, lack the natural partnership of Szeryng and Haebler, but Steck’s warm tone brings vitality to the violin’s soloistic moments, while Hill takes the fortepiano part’s virtuosic demands in his stride. An appealing disc in its own right, but perhaps a disappointment for anyone expecting genuine Mozart. Catherine Nelson