It may seem surprising that the celebrated, noteworthy conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler conducted largely out of necessity rather than desire. His true passion from an early age rested with composition, and although he completed several large-scale works, few of them are performed with any great frequency. His writing is deeply rooted in the Romantic tradition, and his forms tend to adhere to Classical guidelines. Perhaps what makes his works challenging for listeners is their sheer length, which was often exceptional. The Second Violin Sonata heard on this disc, for example, is a hefty work clocking in at more than 40 minutes of dense music that demands much of performers and listeners alike. Furtwängler utilizes the full potential of both instruments: extreme dynamic range, abundant color variety, and frequently thick, dense scoring. The result is more like a small symphony than what most might think of as a violin sonata. Violinist Sophie Moser and pianist Katja Huhn, who discovered the sonata quite by accident, have become champions of the work and Furtwängler's compositions in general. They possess both the technical demands and youthful endurance necessary to keep interest throughout the work. Even still, appreciation of this sonata takes several listens at least; fortunately, Moser and Huhn make this a pleasure. They cleverly end their disc with Beethoven's Sonata No. 8, Op. 30/3, a staunchly contrasting work if ever there was one. The light frivolity provides a much needed break from the intensity of the Furtwängler. Their playing of the Beethoven is every bit as nuanced and enjoyable as the Furtwängler, leaving listeners hoping that this talented young duo may lay down more of the Beethoven sonatas as their careers progress.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata No. 2 in D major for violin & piano, WF 115|
|Sonata No. 8 in G major for violin & piano, Np. 30/3|