LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert , Webern , Berg
WORKS: Schubert: Sonate for Arpeggione and Piano; ‘Das Wandern’; ‘Ungeduld’; ‘Die Vögel’; ‘Nacht und Träume’; Webern: Three Little Pieces, Op. 11; Berg: Four Pieces, Op. 5
PERFORMER: Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Alexandre Tharaud (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901930
The guitarre d’amour – that six-stringed crossbreed between guitar and cello – came and went with scarcely a flicker of interest from the music community: Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata is its only monument. But for Queyras and Tharaud this work has iconic importance: since it’s the core of their repertoire, they’ve built this whole CD round it. After despatching it with expansive grace, they set off on a voyage taking in a series of works, never linked in this way before.
First port of call is Schubert the songsmith – with ‘Das Wandern’ and ‘Ungeduld’ – after which they visit Webern’s Three Little Pieces, Op. 11. Then it’s back to Schubert for ‘Die Vogel’, the D384 Sonatina, and ‘Wiegenlied’, before a sortie to Berg’s Four Pieces Op. 5, with Schubert’s ‘Nacht und Träume’ completing the journey.
Queyras asserts that these works ‘share the same need for limitless confrontation with… desire, sensuality, and death’: if that’s to over-egg the pudding, the results are still arrestingly effective. The short pieces come and go like gusts of wind; Webern hangs in space, Berg swirls tempestuously. But most interesting is Schubert’s Sonatina, with grave formality in the first movement, Mozartian elegance in the second, and gravity in the vivace finale. All beautifully played. Michael Church