Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


in case of difficulty:

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937)
Works for violin and piano

Violin Sonata No. 1 Op. 50 (1881) [25.20]
Violin Sonata No. 2 (1907 rev. 1937) [20.55]
Romance for violin and piano (1889 rev. 1912) [4.22]
Cavatine for violin and piano (1887) [7.12]
Suite Florentine for violin and piano (1919) [12.09]
Janet Packer (violin)
Orin Grossman (piano)
rec. 1992-94, Tsai Performance Center, Boston University, Boston, USA. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2475 [70.45]

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 wonderful sensitivity.

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.

Rob Barnett

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