Composers: Mozart
Compositions: Violin Sonatas
Performers: Isabelle Faust v, Alexander Melnikov fp
Catalogue Number: Harmonia Mundi HMM902361

This second release in Faust and Melnikov’s traversal of Mozart’s mature violin sonatas offers K.301, 305, 376 & 378 and is self-recommending – two supreme musicians with an intimate rapport gambolling through four delightful works that point the way to the later masterpieces. Melnikov coaxes lovely sounds from his copy of a Walter fortepiano circa 1795, articulating phrases with poised wit and eloquence, illuminating harmonic shifts with gentle lighting.

Faust in period guise limits her vibrato to the occasional expressive tweak but draws a remarkable range of colour from her glorious “Sleeping Beauty” Stradavarius and her impeccable intonation never sets the teeth on edge. Their flawless technique allows both to give free rein to their imagination shaping the lines with vocal inflections relishing Mozart’s arietta slow movements and the playful romp of rondo finales. Here’s an extremely lithesome and perky Susanna with a witty and avuncular Figaro.

The Rondo of K.376 scampers about with Faust ornamenting her line with infectious giggles. She launches K.301’s Allegro con spirito with a wide-eyed innocence that tugs at the heartstrings – as the lovely movement takes flight she and Melnikov bounce the dialogue off one another in a playful banter. As for K.378’s Andante, sostenuto e cantabile, their intimate vocalising is lovely but kept in check with demure restraint before they skip off stage to Rondeau’s amiable refrain. For those who like their Mozart crisply ‘sec’ in the period way and prefer to do without the juvenilia, this is a fine alternative to the Ibragimova/Tiberghien series.