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Maurice RAVEL (1875–1937) Violin Sonata (1923-27) [17:59]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879–1936) Sonata in B minor for violin and piano (1916-17) [27:16]
Enrique GRANADOS (1867–1916) Violin Sonata [11:56]
Frederieke Saeijs (violin); Maurice Lammerts van Bueren (piano)
rec. Rabobank Zaal, Muziekcentrum Frits Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands, September 2006
NAXOS 8.572093 [57:25]

Experience Classicsonline
This trio of attractively sophisticated and elegant performances has lain in the vaults for over three years. The Ravel sonata is a vehicle for the Saeijs-van Bueren duo’s rather classicist credentials in which the ensemble is solid and impressive, and the emotive gestures kept within the kind of established boundaries expected of such an approach. So, for instance, Frederieke Saeijs’s vibrato is nicely paced but not especially fast nor indeed wide. It’s a rather aristocratic approach, one that makes even Grumiaux sound fervid. Whereas it’s becomes a bit of a thing to camp up the Blues movement, here instead we find discreet dynamics, a degree of reserve, and glissandi that do their work without becoming engorged. So too the pizzicati, which ricochet without being bent into shapes of post-Bop origami. The attitude here, whilst not without its dramatic element, is more one of a ghostly nocturnal, at least until the banjo impressions kick in.

The Respighi sonata is getting its due on disc these days. We no longer have to look back nostalgically to the days of Heifetz and Shumsky. The sonata’s romanticist credentials are neatly demarcated via some telling portamenti, and by the piano’s rolling authority. Saeijs reserves her greatest tonal and timbral weight for this sonata, drawing on a greater range of tone colours when necessary and greater bowing weight too, quite rightly. Playing the tempestuous central passages of the slow movement with controlled passion is not a given in performances of this work but that’s how it’s done here. One respects the tempo at which they take the Passacaglia finale and it’s the kind of tempo that quite a few duos take, but I’ve always felt that a more determinist policy pays greater dividends and the kind of tempo adopted by Heifetz, or by Josef Suk drives the movement forward with inexorable drama. Still, this new duo has the virtue of consistency.

The Granados sonata is something of an anomaly, a brief one movement work written (date yet to be determined) for Jacques Thibaud. It was first published in 1971. This again suits Saeijs by virtue of its purity of line and elegance, and without any obviously sinuous Iberian rhythms to propel, the executants are more reliant on exploring its songful, quasi-improvised lyricism.

For those who want a measured, refined purview of these works this well recorded disc will fit the bill nicely.

Jonathan Woolf


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