One basic feature, which determines the difference between Fone and other record companies, is the recording of performances in their natural spaces, that is in the places where they were originally presented. This leads to a constant search for suitable locations, and the choice of churches, theatres, country mansions, drawing rooms and so on. The recordings are carried out with the utmost simplicity, the only way not to do violence to the music: all the equipment is high fidelity; use is made of valve-type paired microphones manufactured in the years 1947 and 1949 (U47, U48 and M49) with an extremely natural and transparent timbre and a bi-microphonic field effect; these microphones have a very important history: they were used to record the Beatles at the Abbey Road Studio and by the RCA for the "Living Stereo" recordings.
Dmitrij Sostakovic was born in 1906 and his history makes him one the most outstanding and controversial artists of the Sovietic Union. He died in 1975. Most of Dmitrij Sostakovic's chamber operas were dedicated to Quartets for strings, a corpus of 15 operas, which equal the number of the Symphonies to which the Russian composer dedicated himself starting from 1938, accentuating his work in this field in elderly age. In addition to the Quartet compositions, Sostakovic's chamber production, far from being abundant, is concentrated in the two Suites for jazz orchestra, in the three Sonate for string instrument (cello, violin and viola), in the Piano Quintet op. 57 and the Trio op. 67. If the Quintet can be considered an amiable opera, the Trio for violin, cello and piano op.67 is mournful, with strong dramatic tones and macabre passages: the struggling elegiac modulation is often spaced with a grotesque dance. The general mood of the opera reflects the circumstances in which it was composed: the Trio, was composed at the beginnings of 1944, during the war, and dedicated to the memory of Ivan Sollertinskij, who died prematurely in February, that same year ("the death of Sollertinskij is a serious loss in the music panorama. There are no men who had loved music with the passion and warmth of Sollertinskij").
The opening Andante, with its contrapuntal writing, is characterized by the high harmonious sounds of the cello and by an oriental melodic scheme, that will be renewed in the future moves. Then follows Allegro non troppo, of extraordinary vitality, which calms down in the Largo, a passacaglia bass, so slow as to appear immovable, consigned to the keyboard of the piano, which together with the string instruments draws refined harmonies. The final Allegretto has the typical vitality of the Balkan music, which ends only after having recalled the harmonies of the introduction and the theme of the passacaglia.
Robert Schumann's (1810 - 1856) juvenile aspiration was to become a poet. Even though at the age of 12 together with some of his friends he founded an orchestra, composed a psalm and read Mozart, Haydn and Weber literature was going to influence his mind. His readings went from Byron, who exalted him, to Goethe; from Schiller to Richter. He founded a literary club and pretended to argue together with his friends about the classics and the romantics. Later, at the age of 15, the tearing dilemma of the double vocation and the anguishing confession: "In youth age there are moments in which the heart is unable to find what it really wants, because overshadowed by a secret nostalgia and by tears it does not know what it is looking for". And yet: "...I am not aware of who I really am ... If I'll be a poet one day - because nobody can become one - destiny will decide it" (Diaries, 1827). Music, after the short period of time he dedicated to the studying of the "cold jurisprudence", will become not only his exclusive occupation, but a true obsession for him. He was Friedrich Wieck's piano student since 1830, two years later he had to give up the career of virtuoso because he hurt his finger during absurd experiments in order to improve his technique. Composition will then absorb all of his energies, and in the first years he will work for the piano. But not only that.
With his entourage of musicians and acclaimers "The David League", in 1843 he founded the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, a review with the purpose of giving a new freshness to music. This new adventure absorbed all of his strengths. For years he was the head editor of the magazine, writing several articles and bearing several critics. In those years work increased - his compositions had difficulties in finding the please of the audience because considered too complex - and private troubles followed: Mr Wiek for years denied him the hand of her daughter Clara, a fine musician and piano player, because even though he was aware of Robert's talent, he feared for his psychological equilibrium.
The wedding was celebrated only in 1840, at the full age of Clara; and those were years of happiness and fruitfulness. Schumann extended the sphere of his musical interests, to the piano production he included lieder, symphonic and chamber productions. As a consequence of the equilibrium he found living with Clara, the great chamber operas dated 1842 come to life: the three Strings Quartets op. 41, the Quintet op. 44 and the Quartet op.47, for piano and strings; both in E flat major. This is the exploration of a new sound world, in particular for the formal aspects, conducted with a extraordinary creative energy.
The following years record an alternation of happy moments and nervous breakdowns, physical and mental infirmity, due to inconsolable mourning as the death of his friend Mendelssohn in November 1847, an event which provoked in him obsessions and frights.
But Schumann found even in these circumstances the strength to compose and, just while he was conceiving the idea of the marvellous Album für die Jugend op. 82, he returned to chamber music with two Piano Trios, in which he freed his tormented imagination (he will compose a third one, the op. 110 in 1851). Such operas stand with an innovation apparently formal, but mean a lot more. Robert is the first to substitute the traditional Italian terminology of moves with indications in German, capable of reflecting the expressive contents, so becoming proper interpretative suggestions. In Trio in F major n.2 op. 80, we cannot find the fire of Trio in D minor n. 12 op. 63, but the expressive tone is lyric and the discourse based on the rigour of the contrapuntal composing (this piece sounds like a homage to Johann Sebastian Bach) proceeds with the peacefulness of nostalgia, giving moments of authentic poetry. The softness of this piece soon captured Clara, who often included it in her concert programmes; Schumann himself, in spite of the taste of the audience who preferred the former, confessed to one of his students that Trio in F major "exercises a more immediate and charming seduction". The beginning, Molto animato, occurs with the exuberant performance of the two themes different one from the other: the first colourful and lively, the second, as in the tradition, sweet and cantabile, but soon after a melody of descendant modulation completely different from this thematic sound arises: it is a struggling love song.
A song which with variations becomes the first theme of the second movement, Con espressione to which follows a new scenario: keyboard and cello play a tough basso on which the violin plays its variations. A new rhythmical section leads to the epilogue in which all instruments play a series of cadenza. The Scherzo is substituted with a short bipartite movement, In moto moderato, where the themes are characterized by deep changes in the melodies of the arches. A thematic return to the first movement ends the Trio: Non troppo presto is a statement of optimism that has as protagonist the piano taking the strings and the keyboard to a fast dialogue at the same time contrapuntal and harmonizing. It is surely arbitrary to associate the biographical happenings of an artist to his operas, but it is also true that in the case of Schumann, as in many other romanticist musicians, poets and painters, the boundaries between the two spheres are almost inexistent.
The contrasting love with Clara emerges in all of his operas, so do his professional delusions and the harsh artistic critics. Schumann can be seen as a romantic poet lively described in an elegy by Hölderlin, who analogously and even before Schumann, was exhausted by madness: