A light but not lightweight approach imbues this with a sense of wonder

Peter Sheppard Skærved: Schubert

Peter Sheppard Skærved: Schubert

The Strad Issue: September 2020

Description: A light but not lightweight approach imbues this with a sense of wonder

Musicians: Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin) Julian Perkins (square piano)

Works: Schubert: Violin Sonatas op.137: no.1 in D major D384, no.2 in A minor D385, no.3 in G minor D408

Catalogue Number ATHENE ATH 23208

‘Blurtext’, not urtext – a fascinating and stylish approach to the score

Using a 1782 violin by Martin Leopold Widhalm II, an F.X. Tourte bow of similar vintage and an 1812 square piano by Clementi & Co, Peter Sheppard Skærved and Julian Perkins interact creatively with Schubert’s three early sonatas and allow themselves considerable artistic licence in devising what Perkins amusingly calls their ‘Blurtext’ edition. They retouch Schubert’s text by adding or amending repeated passages, swapping roles in repeated sections, making registral transpositions, adding extempore embellishments and decorating pauses, and their largely stylish technical approach, though quirky and somewhat affected at times, suits the intimacy and articulative qualities of the instruments.

Some of these players’ textual amendments offer fascinating, thought-provoking performance options but others are of questionable musical merit. Their fragmentation of phrases (notably at the beginning of the Andante of no.3), extension of Schubert’s annotated rests (the opening of no.1), delayed final cadences (as at the end of the finale of nos.1 and 2), and final ten-bar gallop (repeated) in the finale of no.3 and Sheppard Skærved’s same-finger portamentos (especially in the opening movement of no.2) and unaccompanied ‘petite reprise’ (Minuetto of no.3) rank in my book as overindulgence. The exemplary recording replicates well the intimacy and delicately subtle nuances of the music making.