BBC Radio 3 Building a Library January 2017 First Choice
The Gramophone Classical Music Guide:
In nearly every respect this is outstanding. The Rondo and the Fantasie, both written for the virtuoso duo of Karl von Bocklet and Josef Slawik, can sound as if Schubert were striving for a brilliant, flashy style, foreign to his nature.
Both are in places uncomfortable to play (when first published, the Fantasie's violin part was simplified), but you would never guess this from Faust's and Melnikov's performance; they both nonchalantly toss off any problem passages as though child's play.
The Fantasie's finale and the Rondo are irresistibly lively and spirited, and this duo's technical finesse extends to more poetic episodes – Melnikov's tremolo at the start of the Fantasie shimmers delicately, while the filigree passagework in the last of the variations that form the Fantasie's centrepiece have a delightful poise and sense of ease.
The Sonata's more intimate style is captured just as convincingly; in all three performances Faust and Melnikov observe Schubert's often very detailed, careful expression marks, not as a matter of duty, but as a stimulus to the imagination, as a way of entering more deeply into the music.
The one slight reservation concerns Isabelle Faust's manner of expression. She makes the most of any passionate phrases and is equally convincing at cool, mysterious or dreamlike moments.
But the lyrical phrases in the Rondo's introduction surely demand a more heartfelt utterance.
In the Sonata, too, there are places where one longs for more warmth. This quibble aside, it's a lovely disc, one to listen to over and over again.
The song-variations at the heart of the Fantaisie put on a good show of polite drawing-room charm, but the strange tremolando introduction strays close to a very late-Schubertian emotional cliff-edge. Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov are particularly successful in that strange, haunting opening. BBC Music Magazine
The Fantasie's finale and the Rondo are irresistibly lively and scripted, and this duo's technical finesses extends to more poetic episodes - Melnikov's tremolo at the start of the Fantasie shimmers delicately, while the filigree passagework in the last of the variations that form the Fantasie's centrepiece have a delightful poise and sense of ease. Gramophone