English Violin Sonatas
Thomas DUNHILL (1877-1946)
Violin Sonata no.2 in F op.50 (1918) [29:47]
Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946)
Violin Sonata no.3 in C (1940) [19:53]
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Violin Sonata no.1 in D, op.11 (1880) [25:39]
Susanne Stanzeleit (violin)
Gusztáv Fenyo (piano)
rec. St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, 1994. DDD
REGIS RRC 1376 [75:34]

If the cover picture of this CD rings a bell, that is because Regis have recycled it. These recordings were released in 2007 as one half of a double-disc of English violin sonatas on Portrait with the same cover picture - see review. Before that they appeared on the Cala label in 2001 (reviewed here). Cala are still selling their original, and in fact all these incarnations are widely available on the internet. This latest Regis re-issue is generally the cheapest, though the Portrait represents better value.

The three Violin Sonatas on offer are worth anyone's money, however, and though getting on for 20 years have passed since these recordings were made, all three Sonatas appear to be as yet unseconded. Stanford's is relatively youthful, vivacious and optimistic, with many a delightful detail. Bantock's is a nostalgic, delicious work of great maturity and supreme lyricism. Dunhill's was written at the end of the Great War and is a compelling middle-period piece, expressive, poignant, ambiguous. The latter two belong in the standard repertoire, without question - it is a matter for censure that musicians have allowed these to languish for so long in obscurity - and no violinist's reputation would suffer from giving Stanford's public exposure. All three works are sure-fire audience pleasers.

Both Susanne Stanzeleit and Gusztáv Fenyo have appeared recently on Naxos CDs in broadly similar/contemporaneous repertoire, performing together Delius's complete sonatas (review), Stanzeleit with others in Lennox Berkeley's chamber music (review) - both discs warmly received. Stanzeleit and Fenyo are fine chamber musicians, and their performances here are praiseworthy indeed - proficient, communicative and persuasive. Unfortunately their impact is mitigated to a degree by the recording quality, which, though not by any means poor, does make the soloists sound recessed and thereby a little bit 'mono'.

The CD booklet notes are brief and rather slapdash, and as illuminating as a typical Wikipedia entry. Somewhat improperly, Regis have printed Fenyo's name in a smaller font on the front cover and back inlay. A bit of re-mastering and new notes and Regis would have had a compelling buy in their catalogue.

Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk

Sure-fire audience pleasers.