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Margarethe Danzi

Trois Sonates pour le Piano Forte avec Violon Oblige.
Sonata I in E flat major
Sonata II in B flat major
Sonata III in E major

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sechs variationen über ein Andantino 'Hélas, j'ai perdu mon amant' in G minor, KV 360 (374b)

Antoinette Lohmann & Vaughan Schlepp

Fineline FL 72405

Margarethe Danzi
(née Marchand) was to me an unknown name – I suspect to many listeners also – and this disc is the ideal way to introduce her music.

From the moment one opens the CD case, the booklet brims with information (“Two of Leopold Mozart’s students”), articles about the composers, their music, Leopold Mozart, Margarethe’s father, her mother, her singing career, her relationship with everyone else, the performers, the instruments, the recording…all well-written and interesting, with many quotations and a healthy dose of anecdote and light-hearted comment (“Vaughan Schlepp…is also in demand as a maker of delicious coffee…").

It is not often I enjoy (even read) a CD booklet so thoroughly and repeatedly!

Then we have the music, which is very assured and refined, with occasional brilliant harmonic flashes – the recapitulation of the E flat sonata first movement is wonderfully crafted. All three sonatas are full of invention, yet remain immaculate models of the Classical idiom.

As to the performances, I cannot imagine better advocates than these. The instruments sound very natural – I particularly enjoyed the feather-light sound of the violin playing pianissimo. Perhaps the violin is a little too far forward in the mix, but maybe this reflects where the violinist would stand in performance. It did not unduly bother me over time; Vaughan Schlepp playing with a wonderful touch and a wide range of dynamics which create an extra depth to the music. He uses the moderator (strips of cloth placed between the hammers and strings to give a ‘veiled’ sound) sparingly but to wonderful effect – the closing variations of the Mozart, for example. Both performers employ a natural rubato which allows the music space to breathe but never holds up the proceedings.

I heartily recommend this disc, both as an introduction to an interesting composer and as a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience in its own right.

Steven Devine