Carolin Widmann / Dénes Várjon

Schumann: The Violin Sonatas

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If you thought violinist Gidon Kremer and pianist Martha Argerich's 1986 DG recording of Schumann's two published violin sonatas was the last word in overwhelming passion in the German Romantic composer's late chamber music, try this 2008 ECM disc of the two published sonatas plus the unpublished sonata by violinist Carolin Widmann and pianist Dénes Várjon. The old virtuoso's advice to let the fur fly was certainly heeded by Widmann; there are passages here where she seems close to breaking the strings of her fiddle with the full unfettered force of her bow. And yet her near-violence never seems overdone or uncalled for. The sonatas were written when Schumann's mind was inching closer to the complete collapse that later killed him, and Widmann's ardent attack is biographically and interpretively entirely appropriate. Aided and abetted by Várjon, Widmann's performances suit the works' character, and as captured in ECM's vivid digital sound, they deserve to be heard by any devotee of Schumann's late chamber music.

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