Label: Analogphonic / Deutsche Grammophon – LP43027
Pressed at Pallas Germany – 1st Time On Vinyl – Cut at Pauler Acoustics
Mastered from the Original Masters of Universal Music
Direct Metal Mastering by Hans-Jorg Maucksch
Cut at DMM Specialists Pauler Acoustics
This LPs main attraction for many will be Gil Shaham’s velvety violin in gorgeous, largely off-beat music. Others will relish these Schubert works in arrangements that replace the piano with the expert guitar of Göran Söllscher, enhancing the impression of hearing Schubert’s music in the intimate domestic setting for which it was written. Most of the works are short, melodically rich dance-based gems on which Shaham and Söllscher lavish a Romantic tonal fullness and freedom rarely heard these days. Sometimes that’s a bit too much of a good thing, as works like the Violin Sonata in D veer close to the sentimental. But more often the players’ flexible approach makes it hard not to keep repeating items like the melting Serenade from Schwanengesang, the sprightly Moment musical in Kreisler’s arrangement, the German Dance, and a truckload of other delights. Shaham isn’t afraid to linger over attractive melodies or to use portamento and other weapons of the Romantic violin’s arsenal, helping to make this disc so compelling.
In Schubert for Two, violinist Gil Shaham and guitarist Göran Söllscher have assembled a remarkable Schubertiade of familiar tunes from Vienna’s bottomless well, all arranged for violin and guitar. This unusual pairing is one with which Schubert was not unfamiliar (the fifteen dances from D 365 were arranged by him for flute or violin and guitar) and it works. The piano in Schubert’s day was a nimbler forebear to the modern industrial marvel of the concert hall, more akin to the articulate, woody tone of the classical guitar.
At the violin, Shaham is his usual warm, assured self, tender, strong, and unfailingly limber, with the technique of ten men: The double stops in the tastefully un-cloying reading of the “Ave Maria” are enough to make a student head for the practice room and a virtuoso turn green. For his part, Söllscher is equally pristine on the guitar; his tone is warm and his playing is solid, never a chip or a buzz.
Throughout the program, intimacy prevails, and producer Sid McLauchlan has captured it. At times, the sound just a notch up from a whisper mixed with the subtle breathing of the players, then it swells to a gutsy forte. In what is one of the most dynamically contrasted performances you’ll ever hear on LP, Shaham and Söllscher never lose the feeling of a living room setting. Close your eyes and you can smell the Café Viennoise. This may well be the LP of the decade: you’ll want one for your Mom, one for your son, one for your dog, and one more for the car, just so everyone can be reminded of what’s good in the world.