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Len Mullenger:

Janacek, Debussy, Ravel & Nielsen
Violin Sonatas.
Christian Tetzlaff (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 violin.

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


Peter Grahame Woolf

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