An outstanding disc
in every way. Recording qualities are,
as so often with BIS, of the highest.
It is possible that some may find the
recording too up-front, but it is an
approach that seems to suit the music
And that music is the
complete works for violin and piano,
a project that actually includes a World
Premiere recording: the final item,
the Fragment of 1927. But to
take the pieces in order, the Phantasy
- pointedly titled 'for violin with
piano accompaniment', putting the piano
firmly in its place - is given a magnificent
rendition. Schoenberg, interestingly,
initially wrote out the violin part
complete. The work is dodecaphonic and
may be subdivided into four: the exposition
of the material; a lento; a scherzando;
and a coda. As Therese Muxeneder's exemplary
booklet notes point out, there is a
Viennese tone underlying this work heard
perhaps most explicitly in recurring,
lilting rhythms. Wallin and Pöntinen
are superbly confident and completely
at home in Schoenberg's idiom. This
is now my recording of choice for this
The Piece in D minor
could hardly stand in greater contrast.
Dating from much earlier (1893/4), it
is almost unutterably sweet, and despatched
with supreme charm by Wallin and Pöntinen.
The meat of this recital
is Felix Greissle's 1926 violin and
piano arrangement of the near-fifty
minute Wind Quintet. The Wind Quintet
has often been heard as one of Schoenberg's
'difficult' works. This arrangement
softens the more objective sounds of
winds and makes it a trifle more approachable.
All credit to the rich-toned
Wallin and Pöntinen for presenting
such a dedicated account. The concentration
necessary for this huge span - the shortest
movement is the finale, at 10'45 - is
huge, and the players rise to the challenge
heroically. They revel in the lyric
side of Schoenberg and lines, no matter
how dysjunct, sound unfailingly vocal
in inspiration. The scherzando (II)
reveals their telepathic level of rapport.
The movement certainly lives up to its
playful indication, and Schoenberg's
manipulation of musical space is absolutely
gripping. Some may find, as I did, a
Bachian purity to the piano's opening
to the third movement. This is a theme
continued by the violin. Schoenberg
sets up a desolate, beautiful space.
This contrasts well with the sprightly-in-the-nature-of-a-well-behaved
finale, a last movement that includes
some echt-Schoenbergian Schwung towards
the very end. Wonderful.
Finally, the short
(4'23) Fragment of only 43 bars,
is given its first hearing on record
here. The composer is clearly experimenting
with types of twelve-note manipulation.
It is difficult to imagine a more committed
performance than the present one. Wallin
provides some almost guttural playing,
while both players remain fully alive
to the work's dramatic possibilities;
particularly towards the dysjunct end.
The work, incomplete, just stops in
mid-flow, providing a thought-provoking
close to this superb disc.
A compulsory purchase
for all students of this important composer.
The musicality of Wallin and Pöntinen
make his into a valuable and involving
musical experience that far outreaches
the purely musicological.