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Ilya Gringolts - Schumann: Violin Sonatas 1-3


I doubt you will hear them played better anywhere." –Steven E. Ritter

American Record Guide

I'm still enchanted by the subtle nuances that Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul bring to this music

La Scena Musicale 19.08.2010

Ilya Gringolts and pianist Peter Laul take a sunny approach to the sonatas, a welcome change from the usual gloom and doom. The first two are mid-romantic meditations...Gringolts is velvety and seductive in the softer passages, avoiding the pursuit of speed and showmanship, a natural storyteller.

Norman Lebrecht 

Gramophone September 2010

Ilya Gringolts is breathily conspiratorial . These are some of Schumann's least performed works, so it's gratifying that they're being paid attention on disc...given strong advocacy by Gringolts and Peter Laul.
David Threasher

Financial Times 10.07.2010 ****

'....Gringolts, one of the most inspirational violinists around today, plays with panache and sensitivity, his partnership with pianist Peter Laul reaching heady heights in the slow movement of the second sonata, the most Janus-faced of all.'

Andrew Clark

The Sunday Times 04.07.2010 **** CD of the Week

....the A minor Violin Sonata (No.3), which Schumann completed months before his mental collapse of 1854, from the two movements he had contributed  - with Brahms and Albert Dietrich - to the so called F-A-E Sonata for their great violinist contemporary and friend Joseph Joachim (a life long bachelor, his personal motto was 'frei aber Einsam' free but lonely). Although it is often dismissed as a product of Schumann's sad, syphilis addled decline, Gringolts and Laul make a strong case for this bittersweet music in which even the high spirited moments are tinged with melancholy and regret. The two earlier sonatas are more integrated works, No.1 (also in A minor) quickly preceding the masterly D minor (No.2) because Schumann was dissatisfied with it. these are among his most personal and unflamboyant chamber works, and benefit from the scrupulous musicianship that both players bring to them....they have an intimate rapport and innate feeling for the undemonstrative yet deeply emotional content of this glorious music, providing three of the most live-withable accounts of these masterpieces in recent recording history.

Hugh Canning    

The Independent 03.07.2010  ****

Schumann, whose bicentenary is bringing some of his less frequently performed chamber music into focus, professed not to like his First Violin Sonata so he swiftly wrote the second, hoping that it had 'turned out better'. Both were composed in 1851, the third coming a couple of years later recycling two movements that Schumann had contributed to the collaborative F-A-E Sonata dedicated to Joseph Joachim. While the D minor Sonata does indeed emerge as the stronger, more imaginative of the two earlier works, Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul give a poetic, animated performance of the Sonata No.1 in A minor  that makes Schumann's lack of enthusiasm for the piece all the more inexplicable.....Gringolts and Laul show the music is charged with passion, as id the D minor Sonata with its forceful opening, yearning introspection and robust scherzo. Schumann's F-A-E Sonata is not a patch on the D minor, but Gringolts and Laul at least embrace its strangeness with flair.

Geoffrey Norris

The Guardian 02.07.2010 ***

Even fully paid-up members of the Schumann appreciation society, and I reckon I am one of them, would have to admit that the three violin sonatas are not among his finest chamber works. Written in quick succession in 1851, the first two sonatas are fitfully impressive at best, and generally subdued in character, while the third sonata, assembled by Schumann in 1853, just a few months before he was committed to an asylum, was only published in the the 1950s. Ilya Gringolt's dark, smoky violin tone suits the introspection of the three works perfectly. he and pianist Peter Laul do not attempt to impose themselves on the music in the way that, for instance Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich do in their rightly celebrated DG recording, but instead seek out the moments when Schumann's individuality and lyrical invention are most obvious. There are more of these moments in the first sonata, in A minor, than in the others, and for that reason it's easily the most convincing performance of the three: but in general, Gringolts and Laul do a fine job on sometimes rather unrewarding material.

Andrew Clements