This disc neatly complements the Naxos CD of
the Piano Trio and Piano Quartet. How good it is to encounter
Widor outside the organ loft! His First Sonata is a surprisingly
classical piece with more intimations of Beethoven than of Franck.
This is not startlingly original but certainly contains much satisfying
writing. This at its freshest in the cheeky allegro vivace.
Contrast this work with the similarly three movement Second
Violin Sonata but at twenty minutes some five minutes shorter
than the earlier piece. This sonata was written in 1907 but revised,
to what extent we are not told, in 1937. While there are some
Beethovenian tics and twitches, especially in the piano part,
Widor here is much more the Franckian. The violin has that surging
and searching line typical of works with indebtedness to the school
of Franck. After a halting andante where I thought things
began to shamble comes a finale that, after some flourishes from
the Bach unaccompanied sonatas, gains an awkward emphatic confidence
and brusque energy. John R Near's encyclopaedic liner note tells
us that the manuscript of this work was sold for the profit of
French orphans of the Great War and carries a sale date of Paris
10 February 1921.
The Romance is a moony ‘song without words’,
delectable in an undulating sense but warmed by salon sensibility;
beautifully rounded and most touchingly played by both artists.
The friction-less main theme of the rocking and searching Cavatine
is romantically inclined and derives from the fifth movement of
the 1886 Eighth Organ Symphony. Widor was to reuse it again in
his 1911 Symphonie Antique for orchestra and chorus. Ms
Packer manages the high fade-out of the work’s conclusion with
The Suite Florentine is the latest work
here. It is in four short movements of joviality, limelight and
fragrance. Rather like the equivalent genre pieces by Frank Bridge
these unassuming pieces are full of modest companionable charm
and sprightly zest.
Janet Packer's credentials are modern rather
than high romantic - though she does that full credit here. She
has, for example, commissioned and premiered works by Gardner
Read, Vagn Holmboe and Andew Imbrie. She has also performed works
by Vittorio Rieti and William Thomas McKinley. Through the Pro
Violino Foundation she proselytises for modern violin music.
Widor was no revolutionary and eventually stayed
comfortably in the Franckiste camp.