Sonata in G minor for violin and piano Faure
Sonata No.2 in E minor for violin and piano Honegger
Sonata for unaccompanied violin Ravel
Christian Ferras (violin)
*LOrchestre National de Belgique conducted by Georges Sebastian;
Pierre Barbizet (piano)
All selections recorded 1953
CD No: DECCA 468 496-2 Duration: Reviewed: March 2002
Christian Ferras - French violin masterpieces
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
French-born Christian Ferras (1933-1982) died aged 49. Perhaps he is best remembered for recording Bachs Double concerto with Yehudi Menuhin in the early sixties. Ferras is not dissimilar to Menuhin in both tone and emotional vulnerability, the latter suggested by occasional technical awkwardness and loving recreation imploring communication that gets to the heart of the music.
Ferrass unvarnished, slightly edgy high register melts into middle voices with seductive charm; his vibrant lyricism is compelling. Theres also a musical focus, one that sustains the elusive qualities of Faures sonata; Ferras really gets beneath its skin, keeping structure in balance with Faures personal expression, simmering rather than explicit. Pierre Barbizet, Ferrass regular pianist, is superb in his support and elucidation of the complex piano part. Late Faure needs to be worked at; Ferrass lucidity is a boon. Honeggers rigorous sonata, which Ferras brings to life, is an acerbic, spirited and wonderfully sustained piece modelled on Bach; Ferrass committed reading is a revelation.
The fluid contrasts of Debussys sonata are well conveyed with both musicians exploiting delicacy, muscle, poise and sensitivity; Ferrass intense top notes and smoky lower ones add sensual magic. In the two orchestral works, Ferras again displays magnetism and integrity. Georges Sebastians suggests the potency to come with his atmospheric opening to Chaussons Poeme, a volatile rendition that is often moving and soars to ardent release. Tzigane is rather studied; smouldering and fierce for sure, but over-worked.
This unexpected but enormously welcome issue documents the work of a gifted and individual 20-year-old, one on the cusp of a distinguished career he would go on to record Bergs concerto with Georges Pretre and the Beethoven, Brahms and Sibelius concertos with Karajan; the Brahms is especially fine. Ferrass spontaneously combustible playing one senses his soul is expressed through the violin is ideally tempered by the poise of a considerable musician.
Honeggers four movements have but one track; otherwise, the production is excellent the recordings more than acceptable and a truthful purveyor of Ferrass eloquence.