The sonatas conveniently divide into works from the early and later periods of Schubert's comparatively short life. During those few intervening years, however, the evolution of instruments had been marching on, and Ross determined that the correct type of keyboard, violin, bow and strings should be used for each performance.
To achieve the appropriate close-knit sound world of the 4 sonatas written in 1816-17, for example, she used a 1777 violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, a John Dodd bow from c.1790 and a combination of gut/gut-wound strings; Cole played a Walther fortepiano model dating from 1795.
To reflect the more expansive character of the works dating from the late 1820s, Ross used a longer, early 19th-century bow by Pajeot, while Cole exploited the increased tonal capabilities of a rare 1825 Graf Viennese fortepiano.
Ross was equally driven by a desire to establish what were Schubert's exact intentions in the performance of the music, which involved tracking down Schubert's autograph scores from as far afield as Sweden and New York.
It was essential to establish the composer's exact wishes in terms of articulation and dynamics, since developments in the instruments had quickly opened up new possibilities.
In Ross's own words: “These recordings are an unusual journey through time, style and innovation.”
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