The Strad issue
Rewarding period accounts of late Schubert
Jacqueline Ross (violin) Maggie Cole (fortepiano)
Completing her two-volume survey of Schubert’s violin-and-keyboard works, with Maggie Cole returning on fortepiano, US-born Jacqueline Ross here reaches the final five years of the composer’s life, with three important works.
The performances are attractive throughout. Playing a 1777 Guadagnini (with an early 19th-century French bow), Ross produces an inherently sweet and transparent tone without being overly suave (except, to winning effect, in the third variation of the ‘Trockne Blumen’ variations). Vibrato is sparse but the sound is unfailingly involving: a warts-and-all approach, except there’s very little by way of warts. Ross’s pliant, long line in the Andantino from the C major Fantasy is one instance of the sheer listenability of this disc, yet there’s nothing lacking in terms of bravura display elsewhere. Just occasionally you wish the rumbles of thunder were more unbridled, from both musicians, though that’s not to say the dynamic range is limited.
For some, the comparative twang of the fortepiano relative to a modern keyboard may be off-putting, but the added bite and scaled-down resonance are revealing, not least in the mysterious rumbling that opens the Andantino of the Fantasy. In the pizzicato variation of this section there’s just a hint of the violin being overpowered, but the recording is otherwise first-rate, contributing in no small way to a very rewarding disc.