Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Violin Sonata (1918) 28.45
Piano Trio (1896) 41.13
Benjamin Schmid (violin)
Clemens Hagen (cello)
Claudius Tanski (piano}
rec 1-4 June 1999, Wuppertal  
MDG GOLD MDG 312 0934-2   [69.58]
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Pfitzner was a hyper-romantic who long outlived the heyday of romanticism. Such is the fate of many composers catching the mood of the time for a decade or so and then suffering neglect.

Pfitzner has made quite a bit of headway in the recording lists through the agency of CPO and MD&G.

Here the MD&G 'regulars' turn back the dust-cloths on two thumpingly confident works. The sonata shows a schooling in and predilection for Schumann's capricious romance rather than the more stable virtues of Brahms. Some sense of contemporary sorrow and tragedy commingled permeates the second movement and there the violin part does, at its climactic moment, look full in the face at the Brahms violin concerto. The finale is free of such emotional complexity - Spring-like Beethovenian ebullience.

The Trio is richly upholstered with cross-cutting ideas and textures. Defining voices are Schumann and Brahms. The piano part is frequently positive and declamatory. The strings are assertive and sometimes aggressive; their dialogue often comparable (in the first and last movements) with the two soloists in Brahms double concerto. The lento has some surprisingly dramatic gestures at 05.01. The third movement chuckles and yearns in sunny mood. The finale is by no means all wildness and skirling fury. A number of eerily reflective moments provide contrast. Overall one wonders about the cohesion of such a work although there is no doubting the imaginative resource of a composer able to produce musical ideas in such memorable profusion.

Michael Kube's fluent translation of Susan Praeder's well detailed notes is characteristic of the high standards MD&G set (and attain) for themselves and achieve in every sphere.

It is typical of the MD&G that the company makes available programme notes and full details in Braille and on databases.

A recommendable disc for those wishing to open out their Pfitzner collection. I hope that MD&G will do more.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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