STRAUSS; FRANCK Violin Sonatas
Augustin Dumay has recorded the Franck Sonata before, with Maria João Pires; his collaboration with Louis Lortie proves to be just as productive. This performance is full of passion and drama, while respecting the composer’s detailed markings in the score. In the opening Allegretto, both players have reserves of tone to call on as the climaxes approach; and in the Recitativo-Fantasia, an unusually passionate opening later gives way to a mood of profound meditation. The tempo changes (unmarked) in the finale are entirely convincing, and the animato at the end of the second movement wonderfully exciting. All in all, it’s a splendid, thrilling performance.
I always associate the Strauss Sonata with Heifetz, whose lovely arrangement of an early Strauss piano piece actually appears here. This account of the Sonata is grander, if not as ardent, as those Heifetz recorded – the Andante lacking his emotional intensity but presenting a lighter, more flowing aspect. The full, realistic sound of the recording, notably of Lortie’s bass register, allows the virtuoso character of much of the music to make its full impact (at the start of tr 3, for instance). In this respect it scores over the highly imaginative recent recording by Vilde Frang and Michail Lifits. The shorter pieces are beautifully played, too. Mélancolie, derived from a solfège exercise, makes an ideal pendant to the Franck Sonata, while in the Prélude, fugue et variation Dumay plays the initial melody purely and delicately, as if imitating an organ stop, enclosing a powerful account by Lortie of the Fugue.