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alternatively Crotchet


Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)
Violin Sonata op. 64 (1916-17) [32:21]
Viola Sonata op. 53 (1913-15) [32:05]
Marie Viaud (violin); Mireille Guillaume (piano) (op. 64); Michel Michalakakos (violia); Martine Gagnepain (piano)
rec. 1997? l'Auditorium de l'Ecole Nationale de Musique de Beauvais. DDD
SKARBO DSK1985 [64:26] 
Experience Classicsonline

While in later life Koechlin was in his compositions to become more the philosopher these two sonatas from the teens of the last century are more piercingly romantic than profoundly intellectual. They were written in the depths of the Great War and each is in four movements.

The Violin Sonata is revealed as rather pastoral, poised, emotionally direct and fragile with a liquid swirling dance-like Scherzo. Its Adagio suggests far-glimmering distances. The final Allegro molto moderato is classically inclined and sings innocently before rising to a bell-thronged passion. The whole reminds me strongly of the dreamy aspects of the John Ireland Second Sonata and the early sonatas of Herbert Howells. 

The Viola Sonata is subdued as befits the instrument's character. Koechlin wrote of his music of that time that it was an expression of his inclination for good and the ideal and even of sorrow. If the Violin Sonata is about open spaces and the sun, this work inhabits a dun landscape, clouded or dark and prone to sadness. There is a devilish quick-chafing Scherzo for contrast - a real witches' ride of a piece with resonances with the central movement in the Bax Viola Sonata. The Adagio represents a softly sustained and chimingly peaceful exhaustion. The finale is, like that of the Violin Sonata, the longest movement of the piece at 12:36 by comparison with the violin work's finale of 13:30. The Viola Sonata's finale at last finds the sunlight but seems to do so in a daze of sorrow that clears only gradually. Here is poignancy laced with pain before a collapse in one long slow-motion fade into the arms of consolation. The dedicatee of the work is none other than Darius Milhaud who also gave the premiere. 

Two large-scale poignant sonatas for stringed instruments.

Rob Barnett




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