Britten on Record: Schubert: Violin Sonata in A major, D574 (BBC Legends)
Yehudi Menuhin (violin), Benjamin Britten (piano)
Live recording: Aldeburgh Church, Aldeburgh, 27 June 1959
1 Allegro moderato
4 Allegro vivace
Clips from the performance can be heard at the All Music website.
Background and Critical Reception
Britten’s performances of Schubert were not just confined to the songs with Peter Pears, for in the course of Britten on Record we will encounter him in partnership with Mstislav Rstropovich and also Sviatoslav Richter in the composer’s music.
On this occasion he joined Yehudi Menuhin in the second of two Schubert works performed by the pair (the Fantasy is also available)and released on BBC Legends. This one dates from the same Aldeburgh Festival concert as works by Debussy and Haydn reviewed separately.
The first movement of this sizable piece unfolds with an unhurried grace, thanks in no small part to Britten’s control of the subtle contours of the left hand melody on the piano.
Menuhin’s tone is unfailing and consistent, sustaining the arguments of the first movement, while in the second movement, a Scherzo, Britten’s lightness of touch is the defining factor, despite an unfortunate wrong note near the end.
Throughout the piece there is a beautiful poise that both players bring to the music, capturing beautiful the slightly sorrowful air that can encroach into Schubert’s music at times – but also the resolute faster music, which brings more definite optimism.
The performance can be heard on Spotify, as part of a different album release, by clicking here.
Also recorded in 1959: Beethoven – Piano Concerto no.3 in C minor, Op.37 (Glenn Gould, Columbia Symphony Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein) (Columbia)
Next up: Purcell: Dido and Aeneas