Schumann: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Drei Romanzen, Op. 94

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Drei Romanzen, Op. 94
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin), Susan Tomes (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67180
The two sonatas were composed at a time when Schumann’s relations with the Düsseldorf orchestra, of which he was conductor, were beginning to sour. Schumann was, he confessed, ‘very angry with certain people’ when he wrote the first work of the pair. Whether or not that anger found an outlet in the music, he was certainly fired up, and he completed the entire piece within the space of five days. The still more impassioned, and grander, D minor Sonata, Op. 121, links its two inner movements in a highly original manner, with the close of the scherzo introducing a grandiose chorale melody which subsequently becomes the quiet theme of the variation slow movement. One of the variations, moreover, refers back to the actual scherzo.

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Anthony Marwood and Susan Tomes play this music with characteristic intelligence and affection, as well as admirable clarity. The improvisatory opening of the D minor Sonata is quite beautifully handled, as are the Op. 94 Romances (originally for oboe). It’s a pity, perhaps, that more of Schumann’s anger doesn’t come across: the finale of the A minor Sonata conveys little of the music’s barely suppressed excitement; and the voltage in the outer movements of the D minor work also seems on the low side at times. Misha Donat