FRANCK; SCHUMANN Violin Sonatas
It was a sensible choice for Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang to put André Previn’s Tango Song and Dance first on this engaging recital disc. The imaginative programme could be seen to become more weighty as it advances but their thoughtful performance of the Previn establishes their identity as a duo of insight from the outset. In playing down the work’s American popular references and concentrating attention on the sections of greater harmonic and melodic complexity, they give an impression of greater intricacy than Anne Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis’s indulgent version, without losing any of its very obvious melodic beauty (particularly in ‘Song’).
By contrast, however, their approach to the Schumann sonata – seen for generations as little more than a dying ramble of musical loose-ends – plays down its complexities, which in any case tread a fine line between compositional skill and incoherence, and concentrate on the more general high-Romantic characteristics that identify Schumann’s style. Such pragmatism is evident throughout the disc, borne directly out of the reciprocity that defines Hadelich and Yang’s partnership. In Kurtág’s Tre Pezzi the balance shifts more to the piano, and Yang brings out as much beauty in it as Hadelich does in the Previn – particularly so in the first piece, ‘Öd und traurig’.
It is in the Franck, though, that all these elements come together to greatest effect. It is a rare recording that maintains the sort of precision that allows it to stand up to repeated listening while at the same time fostering an illusion of spontaneity, but this is one.