Franck
Sonata in A
Saint-Saëns
Sonata No.1 in D minor, Op.75
Ravel
Violin Sonata
Sarah Chang (violin) & Lars Vogt (piano)

Recorded in May 2003 at Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk
CD No: EMI 5576792
Duration: 69 minutes
Reviewed: May 2004
Lars Vogt opens the familiar Franck (a Belgian, by the way) with beguiling intimate expression. Sarah Chang’s response is of sultry beauty. This doesn’t set the tone for the whole performance, though, which can lapse into being over-wrought, a shade too demonstrative and declaiming. But there is much to admire, too – Vogt’s dazzling playing at the opening of the second movement, for example, and Chang’s very thoughtful way with the Recitativo-Fantasia, which enjoys real eloquence. With less concern for applying colour and more restraint, at times, and a more measured tempo for the lyrical finale, this performance could be recommended more surely; as it is, there is much to admire and return too.
The remainder of the CD is more completely successful. Chang and Vogt make a lovely job of Saint-Saëns’s sonata. They are totally convinced by the work and bring it to life in the most appealing way. Whether in conveying its mystery, sweetness, propulsion or melodic generosity, as well as relishing Saint-Saëns’s consummate writing, this partnership brings real feeling and appreciation to this superb composer’s work, and with it a freshness and engagement that has one thinking this D minor sonata is a notable piece.
The Ravel (lasting the ‘normal’ 17 minutes or so; 24 is stated on the back cover) is also wonderfully done, with just the right blend of fantasy and precision; Vogt both supporting and illuminating Chang’s sensitive half-lights of tone that signal Ravel's delicate imagination and his powerful suggestion. She is, though, a tad literal with the ‘Blues’ second movement, if tender, and the finale is a singular success in terms of spectral animation.
Time and again, one senses the close rapport between Chang and Vogt, which is reflected in the equal-balance, tangible recording. James Harding’s authoritative notes complete what is ultimately a distinguished release.

 

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