Rachel Podger – Mozart/Jones: Violin Sonatas Fragment Completions (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 55:42 minutes | 1,66 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Channel Classics Records
Jones does himself a disservice by stating that his completions ‘inevitably disfigure’ Mozart’s music; this is something far more positive and respectful, a kind of homage paid across the centuries by a sincere and thoughtful devotee. Podger and Glynn deserve no less credit for committing themselves so completely to bringing the fruits of Jones’s scholarship off the page.
Think of the uncompleted fragments Mozart left behind at his premature death in 1791, and the Requiem is probably the one that springs most easily to mind. However Mozart also left a significant body of unfinished concerti, chamber and piano solo music, and it’s four violin and piano fragments that form the basis of this programme from Baroque violinist Rachel Podger with Christopher Glynn: three sonata Allegros in B-flat major, A major and G major, plus a Fantasia in C minor, all dating from Mozart’s final decade in Vienna (that’s to say, when the violin sonata had developed from its beginnings as what was effectively a piano sonata with violin colour, to a true partnership of equals) and now completed by Royal Academy of Music Deputy Principal Timothy Jones.
As for Jones’s approach, given that these completions are part of a wider project to use these fragments to improve our understanding of Mozart’s music as a whole, he has used them to test out some hypotheses about Mozart’s working methods and the evolution of his style: what would happen if he wrote fast; paid attention to the immediate stylistic context of each fragment; kept to each fragment’s stylistic principles, but while continuously inventing rather than repeating (because Mozart never repeats himself). Each fragment has been completed multiple times, each testing a different hypothesis, and what has then ended up on this recording are two contrasting options for each of the sonata movements, along with the first of his completions of the Fantasia.
This might sound a bit heavy-going if musicological academia is not your thing. But read on, because the good news is that whether musicology gets your pulse racing or has you breaking out in a cold sweat, the bottom line is that this is essentially just good music, beautifully played. From Podger, these are elegantly shaped, cleanly defined and unfussily natural readings, and she’s been closely partnered by Glynn on the fortepiano with equally deft articulation and a jewel-like tone that makes his fastest passagework especially lovely. What’s more, it’s been programmed to sound like a concert rather than a comparative exercise, so rather than each sonata fragment’s pair of completions having been placed side by side, they’ve instead been divided across two groups, separated by the Fantasia. So certainly this is one for Mozart lovers as much as musicological detectives; although once you’ve familiarised yourselves with the melodic material, you may actually find your appetite growing for some comparative hopping around on your own.
Essentially though, there’s something for listeners of all shapes here. © Charlotte Gardner
01. Rachel Podger – Sonata in B-Flat Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1782c (Fragment Completion 3 by Timothy Jones)
02. Rachel Podger – Sonata in A Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1784b (Fragment Completion 4 by Timothy Jones)
03. Rachel Podger – Sonata in G Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1789f (Fragment Completion 1 by Timothy Jones)
04. Rachel Podger – Fantasia in C Minor for Piano and Violin, Fr 1782l (Fragment Completion 1 by Timothy Jones)
05. Rachel Podger – Sonata in B-Flat Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1782c (Fragment Completion 2 by Timothy Jones)
06. Rachel Podger – Sonata in A Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1784b (Fragment Completion 1 by Timothy Jones)
07. Rachel Podger – Sonata in G Major for Piano and Violin, Fr 1789f (Fragment Completion 2 by Timothy Jones)