Thursday, 26 April 2012

Shostakovich's Violin & PIano Sonata

Shostakovich's late sonata for violin & piano is a strange but magnificent work, one that reveals its deepest secrets only over time, and in a first-class performance. I first began to warm to the work on hearing it played by Leila Josefowicz and John Novacek, but a new recording by Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov has really made me consider this one of the great violin & piano sonatas, albeit one that will probably never be as popular as works such as the Franck or Ravel sonatas.

Melnikov really impresses, and he is in his Russian element in this music. Isabelle Faust is one of a long line of “classical” violinists from Central Europe that goes back at least to Schneiderhan, Suk and Kulenkampff and today boasts violinists such as Faust, Tetzlaff and Zehetmair – violinists who are at the opposite pole from their many media or commercialised colleagues. Neither Isabelle Faust nor Alexander Melnikov belongs to the “entertainment industry”. They are simply first-rate musicians. And their performance here of Shostakovich's opus 134 sonata goes right to the heart of this complex work.

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