George Frederick Pinto (1785–1806) is one of the major ‘what-ifs’ of music history: a child prodigy both as performer (on violin and piano) and as composer, he was only twenty when he died, probably from tuberculosis or from what one writer called ‘dissipation’. But the music he composed in the little time he had reveals a composer as gifted as almost any of his contemporaries. These three quirky and inventive violin sonatas – receiving their first recordings here – sit on the cusp of Romanticism, their Classical elegance warmed by a graceful lyricism that looks forward to Schubert.
Kenji Fujimura, piano
Elizabeth Sellars, violin
Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 2 in A major (c. 1806)
Sonata for Piano and Violin No. 3 in B flat major (c. 1806)
Catalogue No: TOCC0366EAN/UPC: 5060113443663Release Date: 01.12.2016Composer: George Frederick Pinto Artists: Elizabeth Sellars,
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Friedrich Liener :
A superb discovery! The music has great charm and depth coming across as a bridge between classicism and romanticism with witty operatic themes in the style of Mozart combined with the wistfulness and harmonic invention of Mendelssohn in his piano music. Very persuasive interpretations from both the artists who delight in the lyricism and wit of the music. Definitely worth exploring.
Jonathan Woolf :
“Shortly after his death his mother published a volume of three sonatas … and they are amongst Pinto’s last works. All are in three movements. The most advanced is the first, in G minor, and it reveals some salient features of his compositional art. The first is good use of minor keys, another is phrasal flexibility and still another, in this work at least (though not in the companion sonatas), is an appreciation of Sturm und Drang elements. … The central movement is calm after the storm, a passion-spent moment of reflective warmth before a genial Rondo, full of extrovert charm and propensity for key changing, brings some naturally witty writing to end the piece. There’s a Mozartian element to the writing, and that’s certainly the case with the second of the set, the piano often leading with the violin commentating and picking up lines. Lyrical and easy-going there’s also a proto-Schubertian melodic freshness to the writing. … The B flat major sonata, the last of the set, is straightforward in its opening movement to such an extent that one is totally unprepared for the raptly expressive but notably spare slow movement. It is exceptionally effective. … The balance is realistic and the recorded sound is well judged. Helpful booklet notes are always a bonus, as here. Elizabeth Sellars and Kemji Fujimura play well on modern instruments … But in the main their attention to the Classical detailing of the sonatas pays dividends.” –Music Web International, January 2017
Philip R Buttall :
“The First Sonata opens with a jaunty, dotted-note theme, which leads into a smoother second subject. …. Throughout, the piano has most of the action, with some impressive work in the left hand. … While the modulations and major-minor juxtapositions that seem commonplace in Schubert aren’t heard here as such, Pinto’s writing is certainly looking in the same direction… Equally there is a forward-looking romanticism here, albeit somewhat embryonic, yet confined within a sense of classical restraint – another Schubertian fingerprint in the offing. … The Second Sonata opens with a lyrical passage from the piano, and the ghost of Schubert seems all the more present, with the song-like melodies. Even the conventional trill heard just before the exposition is repeated, is not how Mozart would have done it – Pinto is his own man here. … whenever the tonality turns minor, this seems momentarily to bring out the most inventive from the composer, and something which can be seen later in the works of the Viennese master… The rondo finale has more of the humorous feel, perhaps, of Haydn, and also shares one of that composer’s recognised traits – where a lot of the movement’s thematic material is derived just from the opening material, rather than specifically through-composed. But there’s sufficient fun here and enough variety to hold the listener’s attention right to the very end. … the tempo indication for the Third Sonata’s opening gambit adds the instruction ‘e spirito’ to the mix. …the result is still cohesive, and the frequent, business-like short trilled-phrases, are still countered by moments where sentiment predominates. Again, and there is a Schubertian parallel, who similarly appeared able to write some of his happiest-sounding music while knowing that he was quite close to death… The recording is well forward, and captures both instruments successfully… This still emerges as an interesting and, of course, unique compilation, and if Pinto’s output was sadly cut short before even reaching his prime, then the next best thing is at least to record as much of his extant repertoire as possible.” –Music Web International, January 2017
Remy Franck :
“Named after Handel as Wunderkind in his early days, Pinto was perceived by many influential contemporaries as an extraordinary artist. … The two musicians perform the sonatas with an intense commitment, which fills these charming works with liveliness. This CD is not only an enrichment to those who are interested in violin repertoire, but also to every music lover who likes compelling music but also does not slip into superficiality.” –Pizzicato, April 2017
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