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César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Sonata for violin and piano (1886) [28:36]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Romance Op. 28 (1877) [7:09]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Sonata for violin and piano Op. 9 (1904) [21:53]
Romance Op. 23 (1910) [7:27]
Notturno e Tarantella Op. 28 (1915) [11:09]
Tasmin Little (violin)
Piers Lane (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, April 2016
CHANDOS CHAN10940 [76:47]

Tasmin Little continues her Chandos discography with a finely programmed disc that sits well alongside her specifically British repertoire. Clearly a pragmatic decision has been made that when it comes to continental European and British repertoire, a form of Brexit is in operation so you won’t find John Ireland alongside, say, Respighi, or Delius next to Richard Strauss. That’s not what happens in her recitals, of course, but there are niche markets involved when it comes to releases on disc.

The Franco-Belgian quotient is headed by Franck’s sonata, which seemingly receives a new recording each week. All the movements sport perfectly calibrated tempo relationships and there are no examples of elastic distensions such as sometimes afflict, in particular, the Recitativo-Fantasia. Performances that deform its structure harm its essential expressive direction but Little and Lane’s reading resembles the classic performance on 78s of Alfred Dubois and Marcel Maas, with that violinist’s lineage going directly back to the great Ysa˙e, for whom the sonata was written as a wedding present. With the deftest of dynamics and a fine control of her malleable, rich tone Little adds gradations of vibrato intensity to her arsenal and Lane brings painterly colour. That tone admits of some throatiness in the second movement and quasi-vocalised intensity in the third – passionate but un-indulgent, the music’s declamation excellently projected. After this hot-house, Fauré’s Berceuse brings balm, its pianistic elegance serving as a bridge to the late-romanticism of Szymanowski’s early Op.9 Violin Sonata.

This is a work that, whilst not really characteristic, appeals to large-scaled playing. David Oistrakh played it with panache, and fiddlers as different as Pławner and Ibragimova have more recently located its stirring power, albeit with varying levels of intensity. Little’s warmly communicative playing is first-class here too, her witty pizzicati in the scherzando being complemented by Lane’s supportive incision. The pleasing Romance, Op.23 was dedicated to the greatest champion of the composer’s violin works, Paul Kochanski, whilst the Notturno e Tarantella, much better known, is played with idiomatic evocation, the Tarantella ending the disc on something of a high.

With a sympathetic recording and good notes this disc continues the fine legacy of recordings made by this outstanding duo.

Jonathan Woolf
Previous review: Stephen Barber



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