I am not one to be naturally drawn to so-called authentic performances,
so I approached this recording with some trepidation. Midori
Seiler plays a baroque violin from the eighteenth century - unfortunately
the manufacturer is unknown. Immerseel plays on a Christopher
Clarke 1988 copy of an Anton Walter Viennese piano the original
of which is housed in a museum in Nuremburg. It is a pleasure
to report that there is such joy in the chamber music presented
here that any qualms I harboured were permanently dispelled within
Both soloists - for these sonatas do represent a conjoining of
minds - are excellent. Articulation from both is a constant joy
as is the feeling of constant communication and reasoned dialogue.
Nowhere is this better exhibited than by the very opening of
the second sonata. The lighter sound of the period piano aids
clarity to a great degree. Note that the three sonatas are not
presented in numerical order, and that it is this A major sonata
that begins the disc. Perhaps it is because of its sunny nature
that it is so placed. Even the slow movement, an A minor Andante
is a model of decorum, with its spare textures making maximum
The development section of the first movement of the E flat Sonata
that follows contains some more impassioned moments, and here
Immerseel and Seiler really do let their hair down. There is
some virtuoso fingerwork from Immerseel - note that this is the
sonata of Op. 12 which makes the greatest demands of the pianist.
It should be further noted that he can elicit a fine legato line
from his instrument in the song-like 'Adagio con molto espressione'.
The sun re-emerges for the final sonata to be heard, the D major.
Seiler laudably avoids harshness in her forte stoppings. Every
opportunity for graceful exchange is gratefully taken. This grace
is later most in evidence in the Theme and Variations
movement, a true joy in this performance. Seiler and Immerseel
traverse the varied terrain with ease. The occasionally elfin-textured,
always smiling finale sets the seal on a splendid performance.
The recording is produced, engineered and edited by Stephan Schellmann.
He clearly knows how to achieve a particular sound, for the focused
sound is perfectly distanced and yet remains intimate.
If Grumiaux/Haskil remains a traditional reference point, there
is no doubt that the Seiler/Immerseel partnership sheds new light
on these works. Booklet notes by Rudolph Hopner are informed
and detailed. I note also that there is a photo of Seiler's bow,
credited as by Rudlf Hopner after a John Dodd original. Two small
grumbles: despite the fact that the sonatas are not heard in
numerical order, Hopner discusses them as such. Perhaps the actual
running order was a fairly late decision? Also, Seiler's biography
is translated into English but Immerseel's is given in French
only. Small matters - this is a notable release that demands