Janacek, Debussy, Ravel & Nielsen Violin Sonatas.
(violin) with Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)
Virgin Classics VC
7243 5 45122 2 3. 68'41"
This is one of the best violin/piano duo CDs that I have heard. The composition
of these four individual and contrasted sonatas spanned 1912-27. Of the two
French items, Debussy's sonata (1917) is his last work, written during the
War when he was terminally ill It is emotionally ambiguous, endlessly fascinating
and has become the best known of the four chosen for this well balanced recital.
Ravel's (1923-27) is more quirky, with a deliberate attempt to reverse the
usual roles of the instruments, giving pianistic music to the violin and
vice versa. The central 'blues' movement has slides and pizzicato like a
banjo. The finale is an uninterrupted semiquaver perpetuum mobile for the
Janacek's was begun in 1914 but not completed for eight years. It is entirely
characteristic of his mature style, by turns brusque and quite aggressive
and deeply moving in slower sections, with links to the music of Katya Kabanova,
which he was composing at the same time. Likely to be least known to readers
nowadays is Nielsen's No. 2 (1912) a big work in four movements in his mature
style; composed between the 3rd and 4th symphonies.
The players were still both in their twenties when they recorded it in Bristol
during 1995. The features which I had admired in their recent
QEH recital are
all very much in evidence. They play, and are recorded, very much on equal
terms, with everything vividly characterised. Fine music, well projected
and balanced perfectly, with useful documentation.
Peter Grahame Woolf