An unusual programme lent distinction by characterful playing

Sophie Rosa: Closing Statements

The Strad Issue: January 2024

Description: An unusual programme lent distinction by characterful playing

Musicians: Sophie Rosa (violin) Ian Buckle (piano)

Works: Schoenberg: Phantasy op.47. Schumann: Violin Sonata no.3; Phantasie in C op.131. Silvestrov: Post Scriptum

Catalogue number: RUBICON RCD1119 

Sophie Rosa and Ian Buckle are not the first to put together a programme of late and last works. As the booklet essay points out, the catch is that the composers of course didn’t know they were last works when they wrote them. The only one here that consciously sums up what has gone before isn’t a last work at all: Silvestrov described his Post Scriptum sonata as ‘a postscript to Mozart and the whole Classical tradition.’ He wrote it in 1991, and he’s still with us.

The duo opens with bold playing of Schumann’s Third Violin Sonata, Rosa eloquent in the curling melodies of the first movement, with both capturing the wistful quality of the lyrical scherzo. After a gentle Intermezzo they are lively in the finale, with a fine sense of where to push forward and where to hold back.

Schoenberg’s Phantasy really was his last work. Here the musicians skilfully produce a narrative line through the gnomic, fragmentary utterances of the opening, and Rosa brings to the Grazioso a sultry, seductive lyricism. She nips neatly through the sky-rocketing scales of Schumann’s Phantasie (in Kreisler’s arrangement for violin and piano), stylishly negotiates the passagework, and gives a muscular account of the cadenza. After all this heated emotion Silvestrov’s sparsely written three-movement sonata is like a welcome glass of cool water, played with gentle sensitivity. The recording is close and resonant.

Tim Homfray