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French Violin Sonatas

French Violin Sonatas

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The works in this collection emerged from the genre of duo concertant initially conceived as showcases for the virtuosity of Nicolò Paganini and his successors in the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing, notably Henry Vieuxtemps. He and Louise Farrenc remain attractive outliers in the chronology of French violin sonatas, which began proper in 1877 with the first performance of Fauré’s First Sonata, followed in short order by comparably significant works by Saint-Saëns and Franck. These three works considered together form a trinity linked by features which came to define the character of the French violin sonata as a genre over the next few decades: recitative-like sections, cyclical form, modal techniques and organ-like pedal points, especially in the piano part – all three composers having spent a good part of their career as titular organists at landmark churches in Paris.

A further spur to the flood of of violin sonatas from Paris during the first decades of the 20th century was the abundance of superb performers who had made Paris their home: foremost among them Pablo Sarasate, Eugène Ysaÿe, Georges Enescu, and Jacques Thibaut. The Wagnerian shadow falling over works by Roussel and Lekeu is decisively dispelled by Debussy’s late and sinuous masterpiece, and then more radically by Ravel in the lazy, seductive Blues of his Sonata. The collection evolves further with a bold Sonata of 1932 by André Jolivet, whose movement titles advertise his rejection of the classical forms honored by previous rarities – not only Louise Farrenc but also Rhené-Emmanuel Bâton, who composed in a richly mystical but traditional idiom as an outlet for the creative urges accumulated and repressed like Mahler during his occupation as a conductor.

REVIEW:

A sure-fire bet for collectors of unusual repertoire is Brilliant Classics’ set of French Violin Sonatas, which is headed, interpretatively, by the Debussy, Ravel (Second), and Franck sonatas, superbly played by violinist Kristóf Baráti and pianist Klára Würtz. All of these excellent recordings date from between 1987 and 2020.

-- Gramophone

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 7
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421965499
    • Item Number: BRI96549