The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Schubert: Fantasy in C major D934, Rondo in B minor D895, Violin Sonata in A major D574
Schubert playing that eschews the usual preciousness
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Carolin Widmann (violin) Alexander Lonquich (piano)
ECM 476 4546
Schubert’s invocation of the sublime is amply demonstrated by this dramatic and perceptive recording by Munich-born Carolin Widmann, a student of Igor Ozim, Michèle Auclair and David Takeno. While Schubert’s A major Sonata is given a successful if conventional reading, it is in the Fantasy and Rondo that Widmann and Alexander Lonquich (a pupil of Paul Badura-Skoda) truly excel.
The disc gets off to a plaintive start: the Fantasy begins with clear tone and negligible use of vibrato (which, arguably, is at the price of a certain initial shapelessness) yet opens out into a performance in which technical certainty and tonal precision are counterpoised with weightlessness and a sound that is lithe and subtle. The Rondo has similar characteristics, gradually developing momentum with a quasi-Gothic climax at the conclusion of the opening andante, propelling into an energetic Allegro.
Throughout these works, there is a communicative directness, also found in the crisp and powerful articulations of the Sonata’s finale – modern playing of a stylistically orthodox nature yet emptied of the often saccharine ‘chocolate box’ approach so frequently visited on Schubert’s music. This is a fine disc of interesting music, played with flair and imagination, and recorded to a high standard.
From the April 2012 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.