Sunday, 17 June 2012

Melnikov, Faust and Shostakovich

Adolf Busch and Rudolf Serkin set a high standard for a duo partnership with a fiece musical integrity; both were, of course, also world-class instrumentalists. Listening again to Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov in the sonata for violin and piano by Shostakovich, I had the same impression of musical integrity. Nothing is played for effect; nothing is played to show off technique or virtuosity. Both players are of equal merit and interest, and put the music above all. Both players appear to be completely absorbed in the music they are making.

It has taken a long time for Shostakovich's sonata (opus 134) to enter my affections. However, it is a major work. Like sonatas such as those by Lekeu or Janacek, it has taken time to be unearthed by performers, and concert and recording managers still fall back lamely on works such as the Spring, Kreutzer, Franck or Ravel sonatas, ad nauseam. In this late work, Shostakovich speaks person-to-person without needing to look over his shoulder for official approval or popular success. I love the performance by Faust and Melnikov.

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