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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV 1001 [15:42]
Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 [24:34]
Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764)
L'Arte del Violino op.3 : 24 Caprices - Caprice No. 17 in G major [3:30]
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
24 Caprices, Op. 1: Caprice No. 13 in B flat major: Allegro ‘The Devil’s Laughter’ [2:21]
Eric TANGUY (b. 1968)
Sonata breve - violin solo [8:50]
Marie-Astrid Hulot (violin)
rec. 23-24 October 2015, Forgotten Records, Studio, Rennes

From time to time Forgotten Records set aside their historical mantle to promote the talents of a young up-and-coming artist. One such is the French violinist Marie-Astrid Hulot, born in Paris in 1997. Taking up the violin at the age of four she has studied with Annick Roussin and then with Olivier Charlier at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris. Interestingly, she plays a 1742 Nicolas Gagliano, formerly in the possession of Line Talluel, the teacher of Ginette Neveu.

Brave indeed is the fiddle player who opts for a complete solo violin recital, especially when chosen for a debut album. The instrumentalist is completely exposed; there’s nowhere to shelter. Intonation needs to be spot-on, and technique polished. Hulot needn’t worry, she steps up to the mark and performs with flying colours.

Hulot’s solo Bach is virile, rhythmically adept and stylish. She has an intelligent grasp of the structure and architecture of these transcendental works. This is especially evident in the Chaconne of the Partita No.2 in D minor, which logically unfolds. When the bold and noble theme returns at the end there is a sense of inevitability and fulfilment. In the Fuga of the Sonata No.1 in G minor there is linear clarity and clean articulation. The Presto, which ends the sonata, has a rhythmically propulsive buoyancy and is idiomatically phrased. Slow movements are reverential, expressively shaped and suffused with poetic vision.

Of the two caprices, next up on the menu, the Paganini needs no introduction, but the Locatelli isn’t that well-known. Both stretch the technical prowess of the player, with double-stops calling for pristine intonation. Hulot meets the challenges head-on and emerges victorious. The highlight of the disc for me is the Sonata Breve by Eric Tanguy. By coincidence I only came across this French composer of late, and a recently purchased disc of his chamber works (Transart TR129), featuring this very sonata played by Jean-Marc Phillips, has been a welcome discovery. It has been interesting doing a head-to-head with these two traversals. Whilst each violinist delivers an assured account, Hulot’s benefits from superior audio quality, with the violin sound brighter and more sharply profiled.

The intimate acoustic of the Forgotten Records Studio provides a pleasing ambience in which to showcase the violinist’s virtuosity. Booklet notes, in French and English, feature a biographical portrait of the artist by Alexis Galpérine.

Stephen Greenbank



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