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.
This Super Audio compact disc from the independent German label Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm label (MDG) features the prolific Trio Parnassus in their thirtieth release for the label. Augmented by violist Hariolf Schlichtig, Parnassus perform not only Robert Schumann’s renowned Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47 from 1842, but also his youthful C minor Piano Quartet, a hidden gem composed thirteen years earlier. Until recently the C minor score was thought to be unplayable, however, this is the first recording in Joachim Draheim’s new, and as yet unpublished, edition…
Deutsche Grammophon has another excellent Schumann Concerto in its catalog, the Pollini/Abbado, with the Berlin Philharmonic, coupled with a good but not great Schoenberg Piano Concerto. Not surprisingly, Pollini is more muscular and evenly balanced in the Schumann, even if he is, as usual, a bit straitlaced. Pires is always the sensitive and probing artist, or so it seems. Here, she is alert from the opening descending chords to the expressive potential in every bar. She puts much more thinking and feeling in her interpretation than Pollini and most others I've heard.
A 19th-century ‘trio sonata’. Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov have already given us an acclaimed version Brahms’s First Violin Sonata, in 2007. They now complete the cycle with the other two sonatas of 1886 and 1888, and add a fascinating rarity dating from 35 years earlier: the ‘F-A-E’ Sonata, a collaborative effort by three composers in honour of the great violinist Joachim, who had to guess who had written which movement! He did so with ease, for the Scherzo is as eminently Brahmsian as the Intermezzo and Finale are Schumannesque. Alexander Melnikov will be contributing his take on a score his mother gave him that belonged to Sviatoslav Richter in September BBC Music Magazine.