Gerard Hoffnung CDs
CD: Tandem Sonates
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata for 2 violins, Op. 56 (1932) [15:32]
Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Sonatine for 2 violins, H.29 (1920) [7:54]
Eugčne YSAźE (1858
Sonata for 2 violins, Op. Posth (1914) [33:43]
Raphaël Oleg (violin)
rec. 1999, Fontevraud Abbey, France. DDD
NAME OR NUMBER [58:05]
Titled Tandem, this disc of three twentieth century
scores for 2 violins was recorded at Fontevraud Abbey in
the depths of the French countryside. A self-produced project
undertaken nine years ago it was for various reasons consigned
to the drawer until the enterprising performers Frédéric
Angleraux and Raphaël Oleg took the bull by the horns and
decided to market the recording themselves. It is worth
noting that the booklet notes are in French with an English
translation available on the Tandem website. The recording
is only available online (see above).
I was surprised to discover that after the end of Ysa˙e’s
third movement at point 12:42 (track 10) there is a gap
of just under a minute before an uncredited “ghost track” located
at points 13:34-16:44. Frédéric Angleraux has explained
to me that this very quiet music, placed just after Ysa˙e’s
huge final movement is, “a kind of gift to the listener.” The
piece, it seems, is an excerpt titled ‘Aldo’ one
of Luciano Berio’s Duets for two violins. It didn’t
really sit right with me that this “ghost track” was
not listed anywhere in the annotation but then if it was
I suppose it wouldn’t be a “ghost track.”
Whilst in exile in Paris from his Russian homeland Prokofiev
composed his uncompromising four movement Sonata for
2 violins, Op. 56 in 1932. It was intended for the
inaugural recital of Triton - a Parisian music society
group who supported new chamber music in the city. Ironically
the actual premiere took place in Moscow a few years later.
The opening movement, an Andante has a mysterious,
almost eerie highly controlled sound-world. With spiky
and headstrong rhythms, the Allegro is played with
an earnest enthusiasm that contrasts with the Andante which
has a cool tranquillity and just a suggestion of anxiety.
The finale movement - a Presto - has folksy rhythms
that Prokofiev develops into a more serious and complex
Honegger’s Sonatine for 2 violins was completed
in 1920 and premiered by the composer and his friend Darius
Milhaud, the dedicatee of the score. Lasting just under
eight minutes the title of Sonatine infers a rather
modest work that disguises the durability and energy of
the music. In the opening movement there is an angular
detachment to Honegger’s writing that also manages to maintain
a certain charm and I was impressed with the level headed
calmness of the Andantino. In the closing movement
- marked Allegro moderato - a chill wind blows through
a bleak urban landscape. The dramatic impression of the
music made me shiver. Perhaps in homage to J.S. Bach a
cunning little fugue appears in the central section.
Ysa˙e’s Sonata for 2 violins composed around
1914 was intended for Queen Elizabeth of Belgium who was
a capable violinist. However, the technicalities of the
score, it seems, proved too difficult for the monarch.
Ysa˙e’s Sonata for two violins - a work of considerable
proportions - is I believe masterwork of the genre. The
varying moods of the opening movement contain music tinged
with a dark solemnity. Ysa˙e’s writing is not without
a considerable degree of virtuosity and a fugue appears
in the central section. The central movement marked Poco
lento is intensely passionate music with impressionistic
tenancies. Here Ysa˙e is surely providing a musical description
of love affair. I was struck by the cool, steely quality
of the beautiful closing movement, in Rondo form.
It presents the players with considerable technical difficulty.
There are not too many works in the repertoire for two
violins and it is good to see these three sonatas in harness.
Of other twentieth century works I recall that E. J. Moeran
composed a Sonata for two violins, R53 in 1930.
There’s also Miklós Rózsa’s Sonata for two violins, >Op.
15a (1933, rev. 1973) and Darius Milhaud’s scores
for two violins: the Duo (1945) and the Sonatine,
Op. 231 (1940).
This beautifully produced recording from Frédéric Angleraux
and Raphaël Oleg is a fusion of talent in perfect harmony.
This is enhanced by the highly attractive tones of their
Clearly a labour of love for the performers, I consider
this enterprising release a tremendous artistic success.
My choices for ‘Records of the Year’ 2008 have already
been made but the disc is certainly a contender for my
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