Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K301 (1778) [12:35]
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K304 (1778) [13:08]
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K306 (1778) [17:32]
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K378 (1779) [15:40]
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K379 (1781) [15:31]
Sonata for pianoforte and violin K481 (1785) [19:16]
Sonata for piano K331 - Rondo alla Turca [3:38]
Fantasie K397 [5:42]
Sonata for piano - Menuetto I and II; K282 [4:50]
Variations on the air Come un agnello from the opera Fra I due litiganti by G. Sarti K460 [12:50]
Nap de Klijn (violin)
Alice Heksch (fortepiano and piano)
rec. 1951 and 1953 (Violin sonatas) and May 1955, Bachzaal, Amsterdam (solo piano)
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR392/93 [58:58 + 61:16]
These recordings were made around 60 years ago by the Amsterdam Duo, Nap de Klijn (1909-79) and Alice Heksch (1912-57). They’d formed their ensemble in 1945 and had forged a strong reputation for performing contemporary Dutch music in addition to the classics. As well as their duo, de Klijn founded the Netherlands String Quartet in 1952; its second violin was Jaap Schröder, the violist the veteran and experienced Paul Godwin, and cellist Carel van Leeuwen. I can strongly recommend their Dvořák quartets on Globe GLO 6036, and their Mozart recordings on the same label too. They were an outstanding quartet.
De Klijn and Heksch first saw what was then called the ‘Mozart piano’, made by Johann Andreas Stein, in 1950. They asked for a copy and first performed with this fortepiano in October 1950. The following year they made the first of their Mozart sonata recordings, followed by more in 1953 and in 1955 Heksch recorded some solo works. They came out on Philips LPs, some licensed to Epic, and from these dozen or so discs, Forgotten Records has compiled a slimline 2 CD set.
They must have come as a welcome sound when released and still sound fresh, imaginative and enjoyable. De Klijn was quite a clement Mozart player; he doesn’t make a big sound, which is fine, and is happy to phrase with refinement and a certain reserve. Pre-war the Gold Standard in these works on disc was set by the Szymon Goldberg-Lili Kraus duo. They are much more incisive, both rhythmically and tonally, and Goldberg’s bowing is constantly revealing colours from the music that his contemporaries skated over. The changing moods of the music, aided by incisive rhythm and rapid coloration, are best served by them. But the Amsterdam Duo’s priorities are more in the other direction. Their give-and-take is exceptionally fine, and the fortepiano was well balanced against de Klijn’s fiddle, albeit it seems to have been the case that the engineers put him quite close up against the microphone. This imparts a slightly razory quality to his playing. Certainly the more obviously suave pairing of Wolfgang Schneiderhan and Carl Seeman in their DG recording of a few years later, takes up another stance altogether, not least given Heksch’s adoption of the fortepiano.
In short, the Amsterdam Duo’s performances are attractive and sensitive. Slow movements are slow, measured, and affectionate. What is lacking from time to time is the kind of incisive approach to rhythm that animated Goldberg and Kraus’s 78 performances of the sonatas - they didn’t record them all.
For the solo piano works Heksch left the fortepiano for her more accustomed pianoforte. She plays a rather odd array of things, the Rondo alla Turca and the Minuets from Sonata K282 among them. Her playing is highly musicianly, from what one can tell, and very well worth reviving.
Incidentally de Klijn also recorded three Beethoven sonatas with Heksch, Brahms’s op.108, the Pijper First with Henkemans, and the Wijdeveld 1952 sonata with Frid on a Radio Nederland disc. I’m pretty sure he also recorded under the moniker ‘Roman Rubato’.
Globe 6039 contains five of the violin sonatas included in this set; K301, 204, 306, 378 and 379. It’s a very slightly ‘warmer’ transfer, somewhat softening that razory tone on the original LPs. As usual there are no notes with this Forgotten Records release.
These performances are attractive and sensitive.