Bartók Violin Sonatas; Contrasts

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Bartók Violin Sonatas; Contrasts

  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2
  • Contrasts

Readers who habitually fight shy of Bartok's provocatively astringent piano writing—especially as exemplified in the Piano Sonata, Out of doors and Three Studies—might initially find these endlessly fascinating works rather unpalatable, the First Sonata especially. But careful scrutiny reveals manifold beauties which, once absorbed, tend to haunt one's memory and prompt repeated listening. Jeno Jando's piano playing is fairly forthright yet without the naked agression of, say, Sviatoslav Richter. Furthermore, it provides an effective foil for Gyorgy Pauk's warm tone and fluid solo line, especially in the First Sonata, where ungainly tone production could so easily compound one's discomfort. Here, however, the interpretation is at once thoughtful and well shaped, and fully appreciative of the mysterious 'night music' that sits at the heart of the Adagio.
The Second Sonata is both gentler and more improvisatory, its language and structure—although still pretty formidable—somewhat in the manner of a rhapsody. Pauk and Jando again hit the target, and the full-bodied recording makes for an homogeneous sound picture. To have a spirited performance of the multi-faceted Contrasts as a bonus certainly helps promote this well-annotated CD to the front line of competition, especially as no other rival presents the two sonatas in tandem with such a generous coupling. A confident mainstream recommendation, then, and superb value for money.'

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