Romantic Violin Sonatas
Schubert: Grand Duo for Violin and Piano in A, D574; R Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 2; Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45
SOMM Recordings SOMMCD 0628 79:40 mins
From the outset, listeners will enjoy violinist Guillaume Combet’s luxurious, old-fashioned sound and the rich acoustic. In comparison, Sandra Carlock’s piano is a little subdued (another slightly old-fashioned decision).
The recital recorded by the Philadelphia-based Carlock-Combet Duo presents three different challenges. Robert Schumann’s compositions from the 1850s tend to expansiveness and harmonic drift unless performers make clear, large-scale decisions about structure and contrast. The duo could also explore extremes – more inwardness as well as greater exuberance and unpredictability in this late Sonata Op. 121. They lack nothing in tenderness and beauty, but late Schumann’s sheer weirdness needs less good behaviour. But the closing movement, ‘Bewegt’, maintains energy and momentum throughout.
In Schubert’s cheerful Sonata in A major – which appeared posthumously in the same year as the Schumann sonata – the duo seems more at ease, more playful, from the rustic, beguiling opening bars onwards. Phrases are more generously spaced and the music sparkles. The Scherzo is a teasing, elusive delight, its sensual Trio a lovely contrast. This is Schubert played most charmingly.
The recital closes with Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata, his last completed chamber work from 1887. This feisty, passionate Romantic work responds to elasticity, spaciousness and grandeur, which can compensate for some weaknesses in the piece, such as the slightly uninspired main theme of the first movement. This performance is a touch unyielding. But again, it is the fascinating final movement which is most enjoyable; a magical, turbulent, folk-inspired journey which the duo tackles with passion and energy.
Read more reviews of the latest Grieg recordings