Friederike Starkloff / José Gallardo

Mozart: Sonatas for Violin and Piano

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This German release gets the title of these Mozart sonatas right: they are sonatas for piano and violin, not sonatas for violin and piano. Moreover, the balance is right as well: the baseline momentum is carried by the piano, with the violin coming in with just the right charmed subtlety. The title is Mozart's, and it's one that everybody else would have used at the time for this genre, which often involved a piano sonata with an ad libitum violin accompaniment. The comparative equality between the two instruments in Mozart's sonatas, especially the K. 454 sonata in B flat major, would have been a point of surprise in their favor. The cover photo, however, is of 21-year-old German violinist Friederike Starkloff, a then-recent contest winner who handles the restricted role of the violin well. Neither she nor Argentine pianist José Gallardo adds anything terribly new to the music, but there's an unassuming grace to the performances that seeps in after repeated hearings. The performers are not well supported by the usually fine Oehms engineering team, working in the University of Augsburg Concert Hall. The space is too live for this chamber music, and the problems are compounded by close miking that lets you hear every bit of violin bow noise. In situations where sound quality isn't a priority, some may enjoy this exposition of a promising young talent.

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