COMPOSERS: Raveland Schumann,Schubert,Stravinsky
PERFORMER: Viktoria Mullova (violin), Katia Labèque (piano)
Many big-name duos have the appearance and sound of marriages of convenience, brought together by record companies during a brief window in hectic schedules to spend a couple of days together in the studio. Sometimes it works, but the results often reflect the superficiality of the relationship.
There is no danger of that in this marvellous new disc from Viktoria Mullova and Katia Labèque. They have been performing together regularly for years, and this disc has the feel of a genuine recital, a true partnership.
The hushed opening of Schubert’s Fantasie is magical, with the early mist gradually clearing for a journey full of genial joie de vivre.
Mullova’s slides in Ravel’s sonata, captured in fine sound, have the fluidity and freedom that can only be achieved when understanding between violinist and pianist runs deep, while the pacing of the Perpetuum mobile is masterly.
It might be thought that the Ravel would be closest in spirit to Stravinsky, but the Schubert emerges as its more natural partner. Not that the Suite Italienne is at all lacking in elan, though some might prefer a more driven rhythmic approach. Clara Schumann’s Romanze is a sublime postlude to an imaginative and enjoyable disc.