Monday, 13 February 2017

Return to Josef Spacek

A surprising number of composers wrote only one sonata for violin and piano: Leos Janacek, César Franck, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, Debussy, Ravel. The list really also includes Prokofiev, whose somewhat lightweight second sonata is an adaptation of a flute sonata, and Robert Schumann, whose second sonata is very small beer compared with the first. Gabriel Fauré also wrote a second sonata that has nowhere near the stature of the first. Elgar wrote one sonata for violin and piano, as did Guillaume Lekeu and Albéric Magnard; many composers wrote none at all. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, of course, wrote many sonatas for violin and keyboard, and Brahms wrote three (very good ones, too).This occurred to me forcibly listening to a CD recital yesterday.

Some three years ago in this blog I warmly praised Josef Spacek's CD of Janacek, Smetana and Prokofiev. Having listened to it again yesterday, I praise it again; it's a superb CD, and really well recorded. Janacek's ever-fascinating sonata is played warmly. Prokofiev's first sonata for violin and piano has all the tension and spikiness that I missed in Lisa Oshima's recent CD, and Spacek is greatly aided by his piano partner, Miroslav Sekera. Great music, well played and recorded. Supraphon does some good things for a small label in a small country.

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