Mozart: Sonatas for Piano & Violin

Mozart: Sonatas for Piano & Violin

by Mitsuko Uchida, Mark Steinberg
     
 

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As the title of this album states, Mozart's sonatas were composed "for piano and violin" -- in other words, not for violin with a mere piano accompaniment but with the keyboard in an equal, or even dominant, role. The CD's cover photograph seems to make an ironic comment upon this fact, placing star pianist Mitsuko Uchida by her

Overview

As the title of this album states, Mozart's sonatas were composed "for piano and violin" -- in other words, not for violin with a mere piano accompaniment but with the keyboard in an equal, or even dominant, role. The CD's cover photograph seems to make an ironic comment upon this fact, placing star pianist Mitsuko Uchida by her keyboard in the foreground, while violinist Mark Steinberg (better known as a member of the Brentano String Quartet than as a soloist) stands self-effacingly in the distance. But Uchida and Steinberg dissolve all hierarchies in their performances. According to Steinberg's liner notes, they have been playing these sublime works together for a dozen years now, and thank goodness that someone finally booked them into a recording studio, because they are as well-matched a team as one could wish for. His chamber music expertise -- and his seemingly innate sensitivity to Mozartean nuance -- precludes any egotistical temptation to seize the spotlight. As for Uchida, her impeccable credentials in Mozart hardly need to be remarked upon. In this program, Steinberg and Uchida perform four of Mozart's mature sonatas, well chosen for contrast, and touching on virtually every conceivable human emotion, as Mozart was so uncannily able to do. The performers convey the gravity of K. 304 as adeptly as the comedy of K. 303; the slow variation set of K. 377 is perhaps the most beautiful ten minutes on the disc; and the late Sonata, K. 526 (if the work of a 31-year-old can be considered "late") attains an ineffable poise and intimacy. Uchida and Steinberg have not only demonstrated their mastery of this music but also whetted our appetite for more -- whether it be further Mozart, or whatever else they might choose to share with audiences in the future.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
In perusing CDs of Mozart's sonatas for piano and violin, a lot can be guessed in advance by noticing which performer is featured prominently, and who is relegated to second place. In these sonatas the violin is minimized to an obbligato accompaniment. Legendary pianist Mitsuko Uchida is clearly the dominant partner, and rising violinist Mark Steinberg is only her deferential sidekick. The usual problems of balance between the piano and violin are exacerbated by such a lopsided pairing, and it is inevitable that Uchida's interesting interpretations, refined expression, and impeccable execution will outshine Steinberg's efforts; no matter how desperately he tries to get on an equal footing with her, he must fail. As it happens, his playing eventually becomes an annoyance, little more than a doubling or elaboration of the melodic line, with little independence of thought, expression, attack, or color. Strangely, one wishes to hear Uchida's playing unadorned, without the chattering fiddling going on beside her, but this is just further evidence that this duo is mismatched. The sound quality is decent, except that the highly resonant acoustics emphasize the piano to the violin's further detriment.
New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
These two artists have been enjoying playing together for several years. Listen to their splendid new Philips recording of four Mozart sonatas, and you will understand why. They bring out good things in each other: refinement and grace from Mr. Steinberg and devilish glee from Ms. Uchida.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/08/2005
Label:
Philips
UPC:
0028947565628
catalogNumber:
000411502

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Sonata for violin & piano No. 25 in F major, K. 377 (K. 374e)
  2. Sonata for violin & piano No. 20 in C major, K. 303 (K. 293c)
  3. Sonata for violin & piano No. 21 in E minor, K. 304 (K. 300c)
  4. Sonata for violin & piano No. 35 in A major, K. 526

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