Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, op 8 (1865) [25:25]
Violin Sonata No. 2 in G major, op 13 (1867) [24:16]
Violin Sonata No. 3 in C minor, op 45 (1887) [27:02]
Daniela Cammarano, violin
Alessandro Deljavan, piano
rec. 14 October, 2014 at Kulturni Center Lojze Bratuz, Gorica (Gorizia), Italy
ÆVEA CLASSICS AE15010 [76:45]

Edvard Grieg’s passions often seem to simmer just beneath the surface. Daniela Cammarano and Alessandro Deljavan let them loose in a new recording of the three violin sonatas. This strong-flavored recording gave great pleasure, although it may not be for everyone.

My reference has been a much-enjoyed Hyperion recording by Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez. These performances are light and tight, vehicles for technical display, but rather buttoned up and under firm control. Cammarano and Deljavan have a very different vision. They offer Grieg on a grand scale. This is passionate music, played aggressively. They bring these sonatas into the world of Grieg’s String Quartet, with brooding, double-stopped romanticism. Their playing features lots of rubato, dramatic leaning upon notes and other perhaps unchaste practices. Although they consistently take longer to play each movement than Shaham and Erez, their well-planned performances have plenty of momentum, so that they do not usually feel slower. Each sonata is full of moment, and while Cammarano and Deljavan have clearly calculated every move, the result sounds less cerebral than Shaham and Erez. They are sometimes rougher but they are also often more exciting. For instance, Cammarano really digs into the notes in the first movement of Sonata No. 2. The performance is full-throated, imbuing each note with dramatic intent. The Allegretto tranquillo is in fact rather turbulent, possibly more than Grieg envisioned.

The Third Sonata is the most popular and probably the best. Again, the performance is old-fashioned, but effective. Pianist Deljavan is effective in the Romanza. The finale is nicely trollish, with an over-the-top outburst of sorrow in the closing moments. This duo is least successful with the First Sonata. Their grandly heroic approach tries to make the work more dramatic than Grieg probably intended. Here Hagai Shaham’s lighter, quicksilver interpretation is more convincing.

These sonatas feature fine sound, recorded up close. The violin feels only a few feet away, and the sound is rather physical. This is comfortable for me, perhaps not for others.

It took me a few hearings to warm to these performances, being put off initially by the hyper-romantic style. But they grew on me. They are fun, well-planned displays. This is a big, heart-on-the-sleeve conception of Grieg. An earlier recording by Cammarano and Deljavan of Anton Rubinstein’s violin sonatas was poorly received on MusicWeb International, although that review elicited an ardent defense from a reader. Curious, I sought out Cammarano and Deljavan’s Brahms, which disappointed for lack of the energy that permeates their fine Grieg performances.

Richard Kraus


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