Mozart: Complete Violin Sonatas8:00, 22nd February 2018
Sigiswald Kuijken (violin), Luc Devos (fortepiano) ACCENT ACC 24334 298 mins – 5CDs
Mozart’s 15 violin sonatas conveniently split into three groups: the so-called ‘Palatine’ sonatas, the Auernhammer sonatas and the late Vienna sonatas. Kuijken plays on a Grancino of around 1700 while Devos uses a copy of a 1788 Stein fortepiano; these recordings span some 14 years. Although the Accent box indicates these are violin sonatas, the indication is for keyboard with violin, and the fortepiano here indeed often carries the weight of the argument. With this in mind, one wonders at times if the balance has the violin a touch too far forwards. The violin sound is lean; the fortepiano is well caught, and the general impression is bright.
The early ‘Palatine’ sonatas (which includes the relatively famous E minor K304) certainly have their charm here, the A major K305 glowing with life; a pity the theme for the second movement variations is rather heavy-handed from both participants. The ‘Auernhammer’ sonatas reveal greater equality of parts: the F major K377 is exciting in extremis in its first movement, and contains a fabulous set of variations (as does K379). The later Vienna Sonatas (K454, 481 and 526) have gravitas and charm in equal measure. Recommended.