Sonata No.1 in A for Violin and Piano, Op.13
Sonata in E flat for Violin and Piano, Op.18
Itzhak Perlman (violin) & Emanuel Ax (piano)
Recorded 7-9 September 2014 at The Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2016
CD No: DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 481 1774
Duration: 54 minutes
Gabriel Fauré’s A-major Violin Sonata (1876) is a passionate and richly expressive work initiated by a darkly romantic piano solo. Overall, and allowing that Fauré was already thirty, it’s a youthful-sounding piece that wears its heart on its sleeve, something that Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax respond to with energy, excitement and no end of revelations.
The four movements are each concise yet are packed with incident, ardour, beauty and agility. These performers’ intensity and chummy rapport – relayed through an up-front if well-balanced recording that just avoids being raw and edgy thanks to the wonderful music and music-making – offer a magnetic experience.
Richard Strauss’s sole Violin Sonata (1887) is also from a young man; he was twenty-three. Again passions run high in music that is vividly communicative. Unlike the inimitable Fauré, maybe it would be less easy to identify Strauss as the composer of this ambitious three-movement affair. However, its ink-still-wet quality and numerous poetic turns of phrase, not least in the central Andante cantabile, make for responsive listening, especially in this big-hearted account from Perlman and Ax, who are also attuned to riding Strauss’s stormy sensations.