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Monday, February 27, 2012

Carolin Widmann Alexander Lonquich, Schubert Fantasie / Rondo / Sonate

After a near-lifetime of listening to particular works by Franz Schubert, it strikes me that his brilliancy is something we shall probably never experience again on this earth. At least not quite like this. His melodic-harmonic genius, his feeling for development, are and perhaps always will be unparalleled. That of course is not to say that others have not and will not do other brilliant things, but there is a purity of intent in Schubert's best works that one can only marvel at, and if you are like me, experience as a high point of musical life.

These thoughts cross my mind as I listen to a new recording of Schubert works for violin and piano by Carolin Widmann (violin) and Alexander Lonquich (piano). The Fantasie D-Dur / Rondo h-Moll / Sonate A-Dur (ECM CD B0016487-02) recording by the duo is as brilliant as are the works, as is Schubert. Widmann and Lonquich are hardly self-effacing in their treatment of these three pieces; they revel in the passionately expressed interpretation that brings out the architecture and poeticism of the works while simultaneously showing the performers' considerable musicianship and togetherness. Their brilliance is put brilliantly to the service of Schubert's brilliance.

The "Fantasie" and its haunting opening theme is marked by passionate bravado in the violin and some extraordinary execution of the surrounding piano cascades. The "Rondo" has a stately yet quite subtle brio to it in Widmann and Lonquich's hands. The "Sonata" has a bittersweet quality that the duo brings out beautifully. Schubert uses some themes, as in the opening movement, that echo strains of Austrian popular music, yet are brilliantly transformed and developed throughout. Widmann and Lonquich's bring out the contrasting thematic moods with playing exemplifying sympathetic and loving attention to the music at hand.

This is wonderful Schubert, ravishingly performed. I surely will return to this recording time and again as a beautiful example of poetic and spirited performances of the works. A triumph!

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