Renate Eggebrecht’s first volume of solo violin for Troubadisc
was a typically bracing quartet of Reger (Chaconne Op.117/4),
Skalkottas, Honegger and Johanna Senfter - the latter little known
and therefore doubly valuable – her 1925-30 Op.61 Sonata.
With this second
volume Eggebrecht explores a quintet of violin sonatas, albeit
the Milhaud is a sliver of a Sonatine pastorale - though this
time competition is tough.
This is especially
so in the case of the Bartók, where she can’t really mount a
challenge to the competition, though it does also apply to a
lesser extent to the Schulhoff and Bacewicz. If we start with
Schulhoff’s magnificent sonata we find that Eggebrecht deals
justly with its strong concise movements but is no match for
Antonín Novák on Praga in resinous attack or in attention to
tonal detail. The scherzo’s accents are rather too polite here
and Eggebrecht’s lower strings have a tendency to sound rather
dead, whilst the slashing animation that is so invigorating
in Novák’s reading is largely missing from her finale. This
is a gutsy, tonally rich work that thrives on a committed performance;
Novák effortlessly holds the palm.
Her Bacewicz sonata
(one that the composer-violinist herself recorded) comes into
direct competition with a recent Chandos disc in which Joanne
Kurkowicz takes on a slew of the Polish composer’s violin works.
Eggebrecht really rips through it – her rival takes 12.14 and
is two full minutes slower – and her commitment and forward
momentum can’t be faulted. What I find rather lacking in her
performance are precisely those qualities I admired with Kurkowicz;
an appreciation of the eeriness of the bowing effects, greater
timbral variety and depth of colour, conveyance of the pizzicato
passages, and an immediate and attractive recording quality.
The Chandos rival conveys the rhetoric with greater clarity
as well, and allied to these matters are the question of Eggebrecht’s
suspect intonation and a rather undernourished tone.
four-minute piece has a festive Provençal air tinged with baroque
affiliations. The second movement romance is the most harmonically
testing but the vibrant neo-baroque concluding Gigue is the
most high-spirited of the three movements.
The Nicolau Sonata
was dedicated to Eggebrecht and it is suffused with some daredevil
folkloric drive, influenced by Bartók. Attacks can be resinous
but they do convey the atmosphere well, and the Bachian moments
- and a certain desolation – momentarily colour the second movement.
The irregularity of metre of the finale lends a stomping terpsichorean
vigour. A good work and an exciting one.
Given the programme
there is no direct competition but in the Bartók, Schulhoff
and Bacewicz other performances are, to be brutal, significantly
more convincing. If you want a conspectus this will certainly
fill a need but for really authoritative performances you must