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.
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.
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.