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Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
Sonata for Violin and Piano in C major (1926) [25.38]
Romance in A major (1901-02?) [5.26]
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)
Poème (1896) [15.43]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Tzigane (1924) [10.31]
Graciane FINZI (b. 1945)
Et si tout recommençait (2003) [12.10]
André JOLIVET (1905-1974)
Incantation: ‘Pour que l’image de vienne symbole’ (1937) [3.17]
Michaël Seigle (violin)
Augustin Voegele (piano)
rec. Studio Acoustique à Passavant, France; 9-11 July 2012.
PASSAVANT PAS 225090 [72.52]

For my review of the Hyperion recording of Hahn’s Violin Sonata, I wrote: - “Inspired by Fauré, it is sunny and lyrical and sweetly sentimental with just a little discreet passion and yearning. Like so much of the composer’s music, it seems to conjure a forgotten, bygone age of horse-drawn carriages (even though it was written in 1926); or cosy visions of agreeable afternoon salon music or domestic entertainments … The performance by the Hyperion artists: Stephen Coombs (piano) and Charles Stewart (violin) captures the essential charm and sentimental yearning and nostalgia of this enchanting sonata most exquisitely.”
 
I wish I could be nearly as enthusiastic about this Siegle and Voegele reading which is much less musical. Here one feels Hahn’s sentimentality is being held in check. Where is the warmth and commitment to the essence of this lovely music’s homely sentimentality? Voegele’s piano part is relatively persuasive against the non-committal wiry tone of the violin.
 
Likewise the Hyperion artists’ reading of Hahn’s endearing little A major Romance is quite delightful and is delivered in 4:27 while the Passavant recording is timed at 5:26. It approaches dreariness in comparison.
 
Siegle’s interpretation of Ravel’s more muscular frenzied Tzigane fares better and reaches more successfully towards virtuosity and musicality. Again Voegele’s flamboyant and stylish accompaniment lifts this reading.
 
Chausson’s Poème was inspired by Turgeniev’s novel, L’Amour Triomphant. In this a young woman falls under the spell of a magic violin brought from India by a former lover. He tries to win back her heart only to arouse the jealousy of the woman’s husband who stabs him. Chausson, more concerned with the spirit of the story than the events, nevertheless captures the emotions at work. He hints at the restorative qualities of the enchanted violin in the ardency of the work’s major melody. The melancholy opening with its lonely, isolated piano chords sets the unhappy atmosphere before ripples of anticipation prelude the entry of the violin and the subsequent dialogue between the two instruments. The piano expresses a wistful yearning and the violin, through much double-stopping and growing passion, weaves its magic. This Chausson reading is more successful; has more commitment and expression than that found in the Hahn pieces.
 
Graciane Finzi - no relation to Gerald Finzi as far as I can tell - was born in Casablanca in 1945. Et si tout recommençait (“And it all started again”) is enigmatically described as “a response to the need for immediate dialogue, fundamental to human sentiment and life.” The opening despairing discordant piano tones submerge and discourage any violin utterances. They set the tone of a work that plods along gloomily until anger crescendos into heavy abusiveness, certainly in the piano part, to hurl and thrash grievances, one might suppose. Pleading violin tones at length bring a calming effect; one can imagine the rest. It’s a fascinating idea and not without a certain amount of mordant wit. It shows off some interesting instrumental qualities too.
 
André Jolivet’s meditative Incantation: ‘Pour que l’image de vienne symbole’, sometimes played on the ondes martenot or flute, is another rather intense and melancholy little piece for solo violin.
 
Uneven. Disappointing Hahn.
 
Ian Lace
 

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