This collection of works for cello and piano, with Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata as its centrepiece, sees Gautier Capuçon and Frank Braley paying tribute to two towering musicians of the 20th century, Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten, who recorded all four of the works on the programme: Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata, Debussy’s Cello Sonata, Schumann’s Fünf Stücke im Volkston and Britten’s own Cello Sonata in five movements, which received its first performance at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1961, two years after composer and cellist had first met. “It is a magnificent piece,” says Gautier Capuçon of the Britten, “and too rarely played as far as I’m concerned. I grew up with Britten’s children’s opera The Little Sweep, so I am well acquainted with his language.” Moreover, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth.
Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich is one of the most impressive musicians of his generation. Pianist Joyce Yang, youngest ever medalist of the Van Cliburn Competition, is a consistently electrifying presence on stage. Together these young artists produce a plethora of pyrotechnics and an abundance of musical imagination. This unique recital program pairs two 19th-century repertory staples – Sonatas by Franck and Schumann – with 20th-century fare by Kurtág and Previn, a combination Augustin and Joyce have performed to widespread acclaim in their frequent joint performances.
These two performances derive from a concert given at the 16th International Pharos Chamber Music Festival, Cyprus, in 2016. The performers involved clearly play together regularly, certainly at Pharos, apart from their impressive individual credentials. Some, like Yevgeny Sudbin and Alexander Chausian, have well established partnerships on record.
This is an excellent and bargan-priced collection of mainly late Schumann, none of which is frequently encountered in the concert hall. With some of the pieces this is with good reason: in the Requiem, and especially the Mass, Schumann's genius flickers barely at all - clearly his heart wasn't in religious music, and the result is dull and worthy, at least by his usual standards. Much better are the delightful secular oratorios, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt and Paradies und die Peri, both of which breathe the sweet springlike air of Romanticism which for most listeners is the true Schumann.
The name of Martha Argerich on any label always means fire, and so it is here. She and Gidon Kremer play with quite exceptional urgency and temperament, and the bright, clear recording brings up both instruments with a sheen. In fact the music springs at you with such immediacy that anyone previously of the opinion that Schumann was showing signs of tiredness in these latish works will be compelled to think again.
The historical-performance movement has extended its reach into much of the 19th century, but this is the world-premiere recording of Robert Schumann's trios on historical instruments. Actually only the piano dates from Schumann's lifetime, but it's especially the violin and cello that differ markedly from their contemporary counterparts with their gut strings. The result is a pair of Schumann chamber music performances of a quieter cast than the common run, yet also moody and full of strong affect and characterization.
The exceptional and unaffected Martha Argerich gives here a spellbinding performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto.