Mozart Violin Sonatas

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonatas: No. 32 in B flat major, K454; no. 27 in G major, K379; and No. 35 in A major, K526
PERFORMER: Christian Retzlaff (violin), Lars Vogt (piano)


Mozart’s earlier violin sonatas were published for keyboard ‘with violin accompaniment’, but in the three substantial and beautiful later works on this new release, the dialogue between the two instruments is far more equal. Indeed, of the Sonata in G, from 1781, Mozart claimed he only had time before the first performance to copy out the violin part, improvising the piano’s music from memory. Something similar seems to have happened at the premiere of the Sonata in B flat, in 1784; and for all their polished invention, both published scores retain elements of surprise – from the almost harp-like slow introduction to the G major Sonata, to some strange harmonic shifts in the middle movement of the B flat. Moreover, the Sonata in A, composed in 1787 at the same time as Don Giovanni, centres on an extended Andante of profoundly ambiguous feeling.

This often bar-by-bar alternation between joy and sadness, beauty and regret, in mature Mozart is something to which Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt are continuously alive. While carrying off the outer movements of the Sonata in A with fizzing vitality, their more general approach is unhurried, tender, feelingly nuanced, with Tetzlaff finding a different articulation and colour for his almost every phrase, and the two of them occasionally reducing their tone so that we almost seem to be overhearing them from the next room. Hardly ‘period’ performances, but these players find so much meaning in this music.


Bayan Northcott