COMPOSERS: Robert Schumann
LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105; Violin Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 121; Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, WoO 27
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin), Aleksandar Madzar (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WHLIVE0059
Robert Schumann’s three Violin Sonatas are the most intimate of the composer’s chamber works. All composed late in his career, they are often relegated to the ‘difficult late Schumann’ category – patently unfair, given the level of inspiration they sustain and the variety of imagination with which he treats this ever-appealing instrumental combination.
The A minor and D minor Violin Sonatas both date from 1851; the Third, also in A minor, was written in the crucial year of 1853 – Schumann’s final breakdown having taken place early in 1854. Its central ‘Intermezzo’ was originally Schumann’s contribution to the F-A-E Sonata, written by him, Albert Dietrich and the young Brahms for Joseph Joachim, based on the violinist’s personal motto ‘Frei aber Einsam’ (‘Free but lonely’).
Putting the three Schumann Sonatas together might seem risky, but it’s testimony to the affection and expertise of violinist Anthony Marwood and pianist Aleksander Mad‑ar for this music that the works benefit by juxtaposition, drawing the listener deep into the twilit world of their own, very personal sensibility.
The two musicians form a closely wrought partnership, their exceptional musical sympathy shining through the whole performance; the lyricism of Marwood’s tone is ideally complemented by Mad‑ar’s variety of touch and sensitivity to balance. Above all, within sensibly chosen parameters for their palettes of articulation, dynamics and atmosphere, Marwood and Mad‑ar draw out the character of each movement, enhancing it in a natural way, with no need for mannerisms or effect. The sincerity and beauty of this duo, enhanced by the gorgeous acoustic of London’s Wigmore Hall, make for a wonderful listen. Jessica Duchen