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Eugène YSAŸE (1858 - 1931)
Sonata in A minor for Two Violins Op. posth. (1915) [30:29]
String Trio ‘Le Chimay’ Op. posth (1927) [17:54]
Sonata for Solo Cello Op.28 (1923) [12:14]
Henning Kraggerud (violin: sonata & trio); Bård Monsen (violin: sonata); Lars Anders Tomter (viola: trio & sonata); Ole-Eirik Ree (cello: trio & sonata)
rec. Lindemansalen, Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo, Norway, 18-22 December 2007
NAXOS 8.570977 [61:02]

Experience Classicsonline

The solo violin sonatas are the works by which Ysaÿe is best known. But his work-list is far more extensive than that, and this particular disc explores it sympathetically taking in a work for cello, a two-violin sonata and a trio. The coverage is apt, therefore, spanning in forces for one, two and three instruments. Let me note from outset the playing is exceedingly engaging.

The Sonata for two violins, whilst hardly back from the cold, seems to be more heard now than in the wintry days of yore. It wasn’t until the heavyweight pairing of Leonid Kogan and his wife Elizaveta Gilels recorded it for Melodiya - it can now be found on MEL CD 10 01116 - that it became a known item at all, and even then its circulation must have been relatively limited in international terms. The Russian pairing darted through the work with exceptional artistry and virtuosity but the more measured reading of Henning Kraggerud and Bård Monsen proves equally adaptable, and admirable. The fugal passages for example are extremely well dispatched and in the second movement the clear Debussian lineage, heated with some Lekeu-like warmth, is raptly conveyed. The finale is played with real intensity, its Franckian moments not too glaring, though still apparent; Franck did, after all, write his Violin Sonata as a wedding present for YsaŸe.

The one movement String Trio, known as Le Chimay, was written in 1927. It falls into defined sections and is a work of sinuous expression, elastic melodic contour, and occasionally portentous profile. Some of the writing is Szymanowski-high, and there are almost expressionist moments too, as well as chromatic ones and a deal of honeyed sophisticated lyricism. This exceptionally clever amalgam of diverse influences is nevertheless melded into a convincing structure, and is played with real force and sensitivity by the trio. The final work is the Sonata for Solo Cello. Given its compositional proximity to the Violin sonatas we shouldn’t be surprised that it prefigures the ‘Bach’ sonata that he dedicated to Thibaud. There is conversational wit as well as concision of expression, and again the performance is really first class.

It ends a disc that may not present world premiere recordings but that nevertheless gives authoritative statements of important chamber repertoire too long neglected.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Nick Barnard





















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