This is the first volume
from Gary Cooper and Rachel Podger of
their projected series of Mozartís complete
set of sonatas for keyboard and violin.
We are told that the series will be
completed during 2005/6.
My reference book credits
Mozart with composing some forty-two
sonatas for keyboard and violin. These
undoubtedly bear witness to the development
of the modern violin sonata. Imparting
life into the genre Mozart, it is said,
was responsible for bringing the dramatic
violin sonata to near perfection in
perhaps the same way that Haydn developed
the form of the string quartet.
On this first volume
Rachel Podger uses a 1739 baroque violin
by Pesarinius and Gary Cooper a fortepiano
that is a modern copy constructed in
1987 by Derek Adlam after Anton Walter,
Vienna 1795. Iím rather puzzled why
Cooper will use a fortepiano for some
of the sonatas in the series but not
for others. In the early Sonata in
C major KV6 which Mozart composed
for harpsichord and violin he uses the
fortepiano. Later in the series we are
told that for some works he will use
an English 18th century harpsichord.
The photograph on the booklet cover
places violinist Rachel Podger in the
limelight with only a hazy picture of
fortepianist Gary Cooper in the background.
That said, in these sonatas it is his
instrument to which Mozart has given
the lionís share of the work.
This CD includes four
violin sonatas, one of which is the
first of a set that he wrote as an eight
year old. There are also two sonatas
from his middle period and his very
last violin sonata, written in 1788.
The delineation between Mozartís early,
middle and late sonatas shows an incredible
variation and wealth of material. When
hearing performances such as these one
wonders why these attractive and rewarding
sonatas are not heard more often.
The Sonata in G
major KV 379 forms part of the six
sonatas of Mozartís Op.2, published
by Artaria in 1781. This is a significant
work and opens with a most melodic and
spacious adagio before plunging
into a passionately pleading allegro.
The final movement andantino cantabile
consists of a melody with five variations.
The violin has to repeatedly wait out
solo passages for the keyboard.
In 1763 Mozart and
his parents set off on a grand tour
of Europe in Paris giving a concert
for King Louis XV. It was at this time
in Paris that Mozart published his set
of the Sonatas for harpsichord and
violin KV 6-9. The early Sonata
in C major KV 6 belongs to that
Paris set; a set that with rather timid
beginnings features a risingly dominant
role for the keyboard. It is said that
the 1764 score was almost certainly
a collaboration between the young Mozart
and his father.
The next work is the
Sonata in F major KV 547 from
1788 and is Mozartís final composition
in the genre. Mozart seemed to indicate
a somewhat lightweight nature for piece
with the phrase, "a little keyboard
sonata for beginners, with violin accompaniment."
In fact the sonata is anything but lightweight
and Mozart must have been making a tongue-in-cheek
The final work here
is the Sonata in B flat major KV
378 which forms part of the Op. 2 Artaria
set. The work is Mozartís twenty-sixth
violin sonata and was completed in 1779
shortly after the death of his mother.
The score opens with a brilliant allegro
moderato, the central movement is
a deeply felt andantino and the
finale contains a characteristic
interlude before a return to the rondo
It was a joy to hear
this Channel Classics release and I
was captivated from start to finish.
There is such a wonderful blend of marvellous
music and quite superb performances
from this supremely talented duo. The
opening movement adagio of the
Sonata in G major KV 370 was
so deeply moving that I felt a shiver
down my spine and it is a movement that
so marvellously sets the scene for the
release. The sound made by many fortepianos
on record I have found uncomfortable
on the ear. Not so in this case as Gary
Cooperís chosen instrument has a most
appealing mellow timbre that is never
harsh and abrasive. The recording venue
of the Church of Our Lady St Mary in
South Creake, Norfolk proves an inspired
choice. Credit must go to the engineers
at Channel Classics who have done a
marvellous job with the sound which
is vivid and extremely lifelike.
The astoundingly mature
playing of Rachel Podger and Gary Cooper
is full of character in near flawless
performances of works that are packed
with high quality and extraordinary