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Late-Period Wonders Works for Violin and Piano

Thomas May

For their first-ever duo collaboration, Guy Braunstein and Martha Argerich have chosen three works from the literature for ­violin and piano, each of which dates from the final decade of their respective composers’ careers. Robert Schumann ignited a late-in-life love affair with the sviolin with his astonishingly rapid creation of the A-minor Sonata. ­According to the biographer John Daverio, “Schumann’s later ­music recapitulates, in microcosm, the achievements of an entire creative life.” The Sonata thus is a work that “with its alternation of Florestinian and Eusebian movements, nicely exemplifies the ­Davidsbündler persona from Schumann’s early years” in ripe retrospect. The Davidsbündler were the composer’s fictional society of artists fighting against the Philistinism of the modern era, in which he integrated his “split personality” as Florestan and Eusebius (the former outgoing and impassioned, the latter given to inner ­reflection). Sergei Prokofiev, like Schumann, found his instrumental alter ego in the piano. But when he looked back over his output amid the upheaval of the Second World War, he decided to compensate for having neglected the flute. The resulting composition, the source for his D-major Violin Sonata, pays homage to the Neo­ classical idiom Prokofiev initially forged early in his career—but from the perspective of his later persona as a Soviet artist. And César Franck, also writing from the viewpoint of a master of the keyboard, channeled his creative power into a handful of exquisitely wrought final works that include his sole Violin Sonata.

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Profile for Barenboim-Said Akademie gGmbH

Guy Braunstein & Martha Argerich