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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) 
Violin Sonata No.1 in A major, Op. 13 (1875-76) [25:22]
Violin Sonata No.2 in E minor, Op.108 (1916) [22:26]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) [27:17]
Tedi Papavrami (violin)
Nelson Goerner (piano)
rec. 2016, Teldex Studio, Berlin
ALPHA CLASSICS 271 [74:58]

If your historic interpretative yardsticks for these three Franco-Belgian sonatas are, variously, performances by Alfred Dubois, Zino Francescatti and Arthur Grumiaux (Dubois didn’t record the Fauré sonatas, regrettably) then you may well find the robust approach of Tedi Papavrami and Nelson Goerner disconcerting.

Their approach to the Franck is positively concertante-like, with Papavrami’s febrile tonal intensity accompanied by Goerner’s super-articulate, sometimes almost forensic clarity. Together they form a vibrant, propulsive pairing, their constituent strengths – broadly the violinist’s burnished intensity and the pianist’s declamatory virtuosity – bringing to the sonata an almost overwhelming volatility. If this is your idea of the Franckian hothouse then this is most certainly the performance for you. But it does sit at an extreme. The music seldom truly relaxes and, strangely for a performance predicated on so much intensity, moments that in other readings emerge as heart-stopping here tend to be subsumed into the all-purpose muscularity of the playing.

In the Fauré sonatas, because the music is less extrovert and brooding, there is a greater sense of potential stylistic mismatch in the two musicians’ approach. And for all the violinist’s resinous tone, the busy population of the piano passagework, the wholehearted embrace of the A major’s slow movement and its go-for-broke Scherzo, the overall effect, best defined in the finale, is one of the sacrifice of stylistic probity in favour of heft. In the E minor sonata one feels Papavrami taking no nonsense at the dilemmas of ‘Late Fauré’. His approach here is almost truculent and there are few real half-tints or gradations. True, much of this is remarkably fine playing, but if one turns to Grumiaux one finds the expected classicism of the playing admitting subtle strata of tonal response, a greater awareness of the use of dynamics and a more effective ambience.

Papavrami and Goerner offer powerhouse interpretations of all three sonatas, recorded with fidelity and supreme clarity in the Teldex studio. I admired the playing hugely whilst remaining unconvinced by the embedded interpretative inflexibilities.

Jonathan Woolf



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