ALBUM TITLE: Schubert for Two
WORKS: Sonata, D821 (Arpeggione); Sonata, D384; 15 Dances from D365
PERFORMER: Gil Shaham (violin), Göran Söllscher (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: 471 5682
Perhaps not quite like a moustache drawn on the face of the Mona Lisa, but the Arpeggione Sonata in this arrangement still caught me unawares. Compared to the richness of the cello (or viola) in the solo part, the transposition up an octave allows the music to float more; and the lightness and transparency of the guitar only adds to this feeling. Where the plangent sound of a Rostropovich or Bashmet invests the music with an almost portentous depth, Shaham brings out the lyrical side of Schubert’s inspiration, especially in the slow movement. And climactic high notes in the first movement, which have to be striven for on the cello, lie much more naturally on the violin.
Still more natural is the D major Sonata, a slighter piece than the Arpeggione, and one which takes the translation of the piano part onto the guitar much more in its stride. Söllscher makes his instrument sing as effortlessly as Shaham’s violin, though the recording is over resonant – a general feature of the CD. The assorted dances and song transcriptions which make up the rest of the collection are all a delight in their sensitive rubato and phrasing – the famous Serenade and Ave Maria come across especially well – and Söllscher has his moment of solo glory in three short dances. Not one for the purists, but who cares? Martin Cotton