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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

Viviane and Nicole HAGNER
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Sonata for violin and piano in C minor Op.30 No.2 (1801) [26.26]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Havanaise Op.83 (1887) [9.40]
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso Op.28 (1863) [9.13]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Fantasie in C D934 (1827) [26.11]
Viviane Hagner (violin)
Nicole Hagner (piano)
rec St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London, November 1997
EMI DEBUT SERIES 7243 5 73161 2 5 [72.05]


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For a debut, this is a pair of very accomplished players. The German Hagner sisters have an impressive list of eminent collaborators behind them (Abbado, Norrington, Plasson and Barenboim to name but four), and as a duo they are well-travelled. Their choice of programme is an attractive one, classical masterpieces with some French froth to lighten the load and give violinist Viviane the chance to show off in the Cuban Havanaise (track 5: 7’35"). Recording is brightly forward in sound, accompaniments sensitively balanced and impeccably played throughout by sister Nicole.

Beethoven’s sonata came at a time of crisis, when encroaching deafness was evidently unstoppable though the cheerfully chirpy Scherzo hardly gives that impression (track 3: 0’35"), while Schubert’s Fantasie was written barely a year before his premature death at 31. It is given a magical start (track 6: 0’40") with a breath-stopping pianissimo achieved by both players. To conclude, they play Bizet’s transcription with piano accompaniment of the familiar Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, which has lovely choices of tempi and immaculate technique (track 12: 0’55") covering all possible styles in which to show off and delivered with delectable panache to the manner born. The final moments positively fizz.

Christopher Fifield

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