(1892-1955) Complete Violin Sonatas
Violin Sonata in D minor, H.3 (1912) [24:35]
Violin Sonata No.1, H.17 (1916-18) [21:31]
Violin Sonata No.2, H.24 (1919) [11:56]
Sonata for solo violin in D minor, H.143 (1940) [14:59]
Laurence Kayaleh (violin)
Paul Stewart (piano)
rec. December 2008, Pollack Hall, Schulich School of Music, McGill
NAXOS 8.572192 [73:02]
Itís very unusual to find all Honeggerís Violin Sonatas ó which
includes the solo sonata of 1940 ó grouped together in one disc.
In fact Iím not aware of another such coupling in the current
catalogue, which gives this budget price entrant cachet. Even
better, the performances are persuasive and finely played and
This would amount to a recommendation even were the music not
so attractive, which is not to say itís transparent, as there
are moments of occlusion and introspection along the way. The
First Sonata is actually the unnumbered D minor of 1912. I agree
wholly with Anyssa Neumannís booklet notes that the opening
embeds genuine Ďpathosíóitís the pathos of popular song, in
my view, to which Laurence Kayaleh responds with pervasive and
elegant portamenti and effusive lyric intensity. Thereís a degree
of agitato in this work and Brahmsian striving, and itís understandable
that it was not published during Honeggerís lifetime in a sense,
given the influences. But itís still a big, confident utterance
from the young composer. The slow movement is engagingly done,
with its odd Delian moments, and the March section is well characterised.
The confident and puckish finale is interrupted by a moment
of baroque reportage, before a nobly conceived maestoso
sweeps us to the finish. As she does throughout, Kayaleh plays
with a refined tonal palette. She doesnít make a big sound,
but it is finely coloured.
The first numbered sonata was written during the last two years
of the First World War. Itís a more focused work, less effusive,
and sites the fast movement centrally between two essentially
slow ones. The central panel of the Presto is played with the
mute, and the whole thing is freely ruminative, though I detect
Franck still in his musical handwriting. Stark intoning begins
the finale, and here Kayaleh powerfully intensifies her vibrato
width. Itís hard not to read into this movement something of
the same spirit, but not the same means, that informs John Irelandís
contemporaneous Second Violin Sonata.
By contrast the 1919 Second Sonata has rather dreamlike qualities.
It takes in a fugal moment, whilst remaining strongly chromatic,
indeed compact in its reach ó itís 12 minutes in length in this
performance. The finaleís ebullience removes the rather heavy
atmosphere brilliantly, fully conveyed by Kayaleh and Paul Stewart.
The solo sonata is becoming ever more popular and this performance
will not harm that status in any way. What I like especially
is the generosity of her grazioso phrasing in the Allegretto;
So if you lack these sonatas, or are curious about Honeggerís
approach to them, this disc will stand as a fine guide with
performances as subtle as they are perceptive.
† Jonathan Woolf †
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