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Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827) Violin Sonata No.9 in A, Kreutzer, op.47 (1802/1803) [30:04]
Maurice RAVEL (1875 – 1937)
Violin Sonata in G (1927) [18:20]
Béla BARTÓK (1881 – 1945)
Roumanian Folk Dances (1915) [5:49]
Fazil SAY (b. 1970)
Violin Sonata, op.7 (1996) [13:08]
Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin); Fazil Say (piano)
rec. October 2007, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Koln. DDD
NAÏVE V5146 [67:29] 
Experience Classicsonline

I’ve often heard Patricia Kopatchinskaja in radio broadcasts and I have been impressed with her control and insight into the music she is performing. It was, therefore, a disappointment to find her Kreutzer Sonata to be unsympathetic and somewhat ugly in sound. The fast music suffered from staccato bowings, too staccato, making the whole seem not like filigree work, but a continual scratching at the strings. There was no line and it was relentless and breathless. It seems as if neither player had any real sympathy with the music and played it simply because they had to. Where was Kopatchinskaja’s real singing tone? Where was the delicacy? The essential give and take which is so important in a duo partnership? I am sorry to have to report that this performance left a bad taste in my mouth.

Her somewhat detached approach suited Ravel’s Sonata much more. This late work is in Ravel’s pared down, desiccated, style which is difficult to bring off successfully for it requires a good deal of control on the part of the performers. Kopatchinskaja and Say are just about right for this work. They do not sentimentalise it, nor do they try to make it into something it isn’t – an heroic sonata. The end of the first movement is meltingly beautiful in this performance – everything that was lacking in the Beethoven is displayed here; passion, refinement and delicacy. The Blues middle movement is marred by a rather odd sound from the piano which sounds as if one or two notes had been prepared and it reminds me of the sound we used to make with our mouths when impersonating the cymbals on a drum kit – tsssccccchhhh. It occurs several times throughout the movement. The perpetuum mobile finale is perfectly handled. 

Bartók’s Roumanian Folk Dances are fun but with little substance, but here we find the performers at ease and totally at home with the idiom. This is a splendid performance. 

Fazil Say’s own Sonata opens with the kind of Eastern promise we’re used to hearing from Szymanowski and Enescu, a fast section ensues which has a similar problem to that encountered in the slow movement of the Ravel – certain notes sound stopped, I had no idea that this was intentional until the fourth movement where the stopped notes are exploited. The final movement returns to the material of the opening. As a piece I don’t feel that it holds together well for it employs far too many different styles and there is no progression within the composition, but it’s the work of a young man and over time he will learn how to collect his material together and get the most from it. 

The sound is good and the presentation excellent – but there are no notes about the music, the booklet contains a conversation with the performers – but this doesn’t help the fact that I don’t believe that either player is well served by this issue. If the Beethoven had had some real poetry to it then I would have been happier about the disk but, listening to it again I still feel the relentlessness and forward drive at the expense of line and phrasing. In a live concert this would pass for excitement and probably bring the house down, but it doesn’t work for repeated hearings at home.

Bob Briggs


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