The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: Schubert playing that eschews the usual preciousness
Musicians: Carolin Widmann (violin) Alexander Lonquich (piano)
Composer: Schubert

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.

David Milsom