When it comes to authenticity in the performance of Schubert's works for violin and keyboard, there can be few – if any – recordings to rival those made for Naxos by Jacqueline Ross, accompanied by Maggie Cole on fortepiano. In Ross's own words: “These recordings are an unusual journey through time, style and innovation.”
The sonatas conveniently divide into works from the early and later periods of Schubert's comparatively short life. During those few intervening years, however, the evolution of instruments had been marching on, and Ross determined that the correct type of keyboard, violin, bow and strings should be used for each performance.
To achieve the appropriate close-knit sound world of the 4 sonatas written in 1816-17, for example, she used a 1777 violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, a John Dodd bow from c.1790 and a combination of gut/gut-wound strings; Cole played a Walther fortepiano model dating from 1795.
To reflect the more expansive character of the works dating from the late 1820s, Ross used a longer, early 19th-century bow by Pajeot, while Cole exploited the increased tonal capabilities of a rare 1825 Graf Viennese fortepiano.
Ross was equally driven by a desire to establish what were Schubert's exact intentions in the performance of the music, which involved tracking down Schubert's autograph scores from as far afield as Sweden and New York.
It was essential to establish the composer's exact wishes in terms of articulation and dynamics, since developments in the instruments had quickly opened up new possibilities.
“A comparison of the modern “urtext” editions quickly reveals that there are many differing interpretations of Schubert's intentions,” Ross explains.
“Accent marks are in different places, and sometimes appear as diminuendo marks. Slurs do not concur – making bowing decisions very arbitrary depending on the edition used.”
*Exclusively available for streaming and download. Not available on CD.
Listen to an excerpt from Violin Sonata in D major, D. 384 (from Vol. 1)
Listen to an excerpt from Rondo in B minor, D. 895 (from Vol. 2)
The thoroughness of her preparation brought distinct musical rewards, as reviews in The Strad confirmed:
“...the players scamper and tussle with sparkling vigour and wit...this is all fine playing, with great musical teamwork.” (Tim Homfray on the A major sonata from Vol. 1)
“Ross' pliant, long line in the Andantino...is one instance of the sheer listenability of this disc, yet there's nothing lacking in terms of bravura display elsewhere...a very rewarding disc.” (Edward Bhesania on the Fantasy in C major from Vol. 2)
About the Artists
Performing on both modern and period instruments, Jacqueline Ross enjoys a unique and varied career. Born in New York, she studied with Joseph Fuchs at the Juilliard School, continued with Saschko Gawriloff in Cologne, and later studied baroque violin with Lucy van Dael in Amsterdam. Her acclaimed recordings include the complete Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Currently professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, she is also on the faculty of Festival MusicAlp in Courchevel, and Summit Festival in New York. She is regularly invited to give masterclasses, and to adjudicate at major competitions internationally. Her research into performance practice has been supported by the Dutch Arts and Humanities Research Board, the British Council, and London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange, among others. She has recently been awarded a CMPCP Visiting Fellowship to Cambridge University, where her research will be applied to the preparation of a new performing edition for violin of Schubert’s “Trockne Blumen” Variations. Her GB Guadagnini violin has been financed with kind help from NW Brown and Company. Visit her website here (www.jacquelineross.co.uk).
American born, Maggie Cole enjoys an international musical life playing and recording as soloist and in chamber music on harpsichord, fortepiano and modern piano. Best known for her performances of Bach and a range of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century harpsichord composers, she has also devoted herself to modern harpsichord repertoire, including the concertos by de Falla and Poulenc and solo works of Andriessen, Ligeti and Gavin Bryars. She performs regularly with the Nash Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia and the Cambridge USA group, Sarasa Ensemble. Her recordings include Bach’s GoldbergVariations, Soler KeyboardSonatas, Boccherini Sonatas with Steven Isserlis, Bach FluteSonatas with Philippa Davies and the complete Bach ViolinSonatas with Catherine Mackintosh. With her fortepiano-based Trio Goya, she has released a critically acclaimed recording of Haydn Trios. Maggie Cole is a faculty member of Cursos Manuel de Falla in Granada, Spain, and teaches fortepiano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.