Mozart in Paris, Six Sonatas Op.1

Available on CD and digital download

Gil Shaham violin

Orli Shaham piano


We often search through composers’ words in vain, unable to find enough information on their motivation and intentions in writing a particular piece. How lucky, then, to have Mozart’s letter from Munich on 6 October 1777 to give us the rationale behind his decision to write sonatas for keyboard and violin: “I enclose for my sister six duets for keyboard and violin by Schuster, which I have often played here. They aren’t bad. If I stay on, I’ll write six myself in same style [gusto], which is very popular here.” Within this short passage we learn that Mozart played chamber music by other composers; that Mannheimers liked the so-called “accompanied sonatas” as well, because Mozart continued to play them there (Mannheim, 8 November, at Wendling’s: “I played three duets with violin accompaniment which I had never seen and the composer of which I had never even heard of”); that Mozart’s impetus in writing the pieces was to compete with, improve upon, and gain by the popularity of pieces by another composer. The genre had many devotees in Mannheim and especially Paris: the first pieces Mozart had published as a child were sonatas for keyboard with violin, in Paris, (Op.1, two sonatas), London (Op.2, two sonatas), and The Hague (Op.3, six sonatas) at ages eight, nine, and ten, respectively; then, content to leave the violin as simple accompaniment to the keyboard, he put the genre away for over a decade.

'Gil and Orli Shaham make a formidable duo...There is a depth of mutual understanding that achieves impeccable ensemble … Gil Shaham has added and array of subtle changes of colour to enhance the slow movements, intonation throughout is spotlessly clean.'

Strad

'Together they project the implicit emotional breadth of these brashly joyous, buioyantly lyrical, gently graceful and (in K304) eerily other-wordly scores…Fine, closely miked engineering completes the panoply of virtues that distinguishes this most welcome release.'

International Record Review

'Gil and Orli Shaham give warm and ardent performances of these pieces, bringing the music vividly to life.'

BBC Music Magazine