Jennifer Koh / Reiko Uchida

Schumann: The Sonatas for Violin and Piano

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Schumann: The Sonatas for Violin and Piano Review

by Mike D. Brownell

It would not be surprising if the Schumann violin sonatas seem like unfamiliar or even unknown pieces of music. They are unjustifiably a much less-highlighted segment of the composer's oeuvre. If an introduction to these three sonatas is needed, one could hardly do better than this recording of violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Reiko Uchida. Both artists offer technically superb performances. Koh's playing sports magnificently accurate intonation, a dazzling breadth of tone color and dynamics, and a richly refined sound. Uchida's performance is equally clean, sparkling, and technically masterful. Despite their plentiful skills as technicians at their individual instruments, there is no shortage of sensitivity, elegance, and true musicianship. Their recorded sound is everything that could be hoped for -- wonderful balance throughout, limited reverberation, and a presence that gives the impression that the listener is sitting on the edge of the stage as the performance takes place. The three sonatas themselves are on par with (or maybe even surpass) many of Schumann's more familiar chamber works. The Third Sonata is of additional interest because while the third and fourth movements were in fact composed by Schumann, the first movement was written by his student Dietrich and the second movement by Brahms. Add all this up, throw in some well-written and informative liner notes, and the result is a wonderfully enjoyably album suitable for any collection.

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