Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata & Lieder transcriptions

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WORKS: Arpeggione Sonata, D821; Schwanengesang – Liebesbotschaft & Die Taubenpost; An den Mond; Dass sie hier gewesen; Wehmut; Nacht und träume, D827 etc
PERFORMER: Antoine Tamestit (viola), Sandrine Piau (soprano), Markus Hadulla (piano)


This little 58-minute Schubertiad à la française makes a very good case for the viola as Schubertian soulmate par excellence. The instrument replaces the cello in the Arpeggione Sonata, the clarinet in The Shepherd on the Rock, and the voice in six Schubert Lieder.

The playing of violist Antoine Tamestit and pianist Markus Hadulla in the Arpeggione Sonata fleshes out the quintessentially Gallic musings revealed in the accompanying booklet. 

A sense of very self-aware and allusive thought-processes breaths through the piano’s frequent drawing-in of energy, and the viola’s yielding to rubato at almost every cadence point. The outer movements are veiled with a mist of diffident melancholy.

Whether this is to your taste or not, the viola’s ‘singing’ of six Lieder is revelatory. Its baritone register is used for ‘Liebesbotschaft’; its plangent soprano for ‘An den Mond’ – and this uncovers the anguish within the former, and the mourning quality of the latter.


These song transcriptions distill the soul-state of each Lied anew, and in The Shepherd on the Rock Sandrine Piau’s irresistibly radiant soprano, together with the viola – whose vibrato she finds a closer companion to the human voice than the clarinet – transforms the music’s pastoral into a haunting evocation of the poignant exhilaration of mortality. Hilary Finch