Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Violin Sonatas - No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105
No. 2 in D minor, Op. 121
No. 3 in A minor, Op. posth.
Isabelle Faust (violin); Silke Avenhaus (piano).
CPO 999 597-2 [DDD] [66'38]

Isabelle Faust is no run-of-the-mill violinist, as her debut disc on Harmonia Mundi Les Nouvelles Interprètes attested (HMN911702, including Bartók's Second Violin Sonata with Florent Boffard). Here she is joined by the young German pianist Silke Avenhaus. The shadow of Kremer and Argerich (DG 419 235-2) looms large over the first two sonatas, but does not overpower it. Faust and Avenhaus have produced a disc which communicates the essence of chamber music. They only lack the last ounce of fantasy which would have guaranteed an unhesitating recommendation.

Ferdinand David, Wilhelm Wasielewski and Joseph Joachim collectively inspired Schumann's violinistic outpouring. The violin and piano share the honours in these pieces, and Faust and Avenhaus are lucky enough to enjoy a particularly close rapport: in the finale of the Second Sonata, Op. 121 they react instantly and spontaneously to each others' playing. The third movement, which contains some very sparse writing, is atmospherically realised. The first two sonatas date from 1851. Faust gives impassioned accounts of both. At all times, Faust and Avenhaus are fully committed without ever overblowing it: the indication for the first movement to the first sonata says it all: 'Mit leidenschaftlichen Ausdruck', and this is just what they deliver. The Third Sonata (1853) was not published until 1956 (by Schott in London). The Intermezzo and Finale belong to the so-called 'FAE Sonata' (of which Brahms contributed his famous Scherzo: Albert Dietrich wrote the first). Faust and Avenhaus are alive to the contrasts and shadings of this piece: the Scherzo is infectiously jaunty. Recommended.

Colin Clarke



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