Carolin Widmann / Alexander Lonquich

Schubert: Fantasie; Rondo; Sonate

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German violinist Carolin Widmann has specialized mostly in contemporary repertory, and her approach to Schubert bears the marks of that specialty: her playing here is spiky, given to emphasis on small structural details, full of sharp contrasts without being especially high in sentiment. You might or might not like it as a general rule, but here it fulfills her purpose and that of pianist Alexander Lonquich. Schubert's comparatively sparse output for violin and piano has never gotten its due, and Widmann's reading here compels the listener to take the music seriously. Schubert's late piano sonatas, last symphony, and late choral music are so heavily programmed that it may come as a surprise to learn of other works of the period that are equal to these in quality, yet are not often heard. That's exactly what you get with the Fantasie for violin and piano in C major, D. 934, and the Rondo for violin and piano in B minor, D. 895. The Fantasie is a close cousin to the Wanderer Fantasie for piano, but is not structured exactly like it; it has semi-independent movements, with a reprise of its haunting opening material following one of Schubert's great long slow movements. The rondo, despite its neutral title, is a work of great emotional profundity. The Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574, a fine essay in Beethovenian style (which not too many composers, let alone one 20 years old, could execute convincingly in 1817), rounds out the program satisfyingly. With the usual superb production from ECM label head Manfred Eicher, this is a must for any serious Schubert collection.

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