SCHUMANN Märchenbilder SCHUBERT Arpeggione Sonata
The Arpeggione Sonata, for a bowed guitar, is not ideally suited to either viola or cello. The viola lacks some low notes, so some phrases have to be transposed, but the bulk of the part lies comfortably in the instrument’s middle range. With her warm, flexible tone, Lise Berthaud gives a performance of enormous expressive range and tosses off the more showy passages with virtuoso panache. Adam Laloum’s part, generally subsidiary in this sonata, matches the viola perfectly. I’m especially impressed by the Adagio, taken at a flowing tempo and creating a wonderfully serene effect near the end, where the pervasive rhythmic movement slows down.
In the Schumann and the Brahms, Berthaud and Laloum achieve what is rare in the recording studio – the sense that they are fully experiencing the music’s emotional impact as they play. By contrast, the fine performances of these two works by Rachel Roberts and Lars Vogt appear rather more distanced, stressing poise and clarity. I wouldn’t wish to make too much of this difference (there’s no doubting Vogt and Roberts’s deep feeling in the final Schumann piece), but Berthaud and Laloum generally have the edge in terms of passion and spontaneity. They’re helped, too, by a particularly spacious recording.
All in all, it’s a wonderfully played recital, drawing the listener into the world of each composer. However, I do wish Aparté had provided longer breaks between tracks; from Schubert’s A major to Brahms’s E flat is a frightful jolt.