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HMV Japan

César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) [27:48]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78 (1878-79) [28:02]
Fumiaki Miura (violin)
Nobuyuki Tsujii (piano)
rec.  2017-18, Teldex Studio, Berlin

Still only in his twenties, the Japanese violinist Fumiaki Miura is an outstanding musical artist. I've had the pleasure of reviewing his three previous recordings, featuring concertos by Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn (review), violin sonatas by Prokofiev (review) and encore pieces (review). Here, he's paired up with the phenomenally talented Japanese pianist and composer Nobuyuki Tsujii. The iridescent beauty of his pianism coupled with Miura’s devotional intensity, make for a heady mix.

César Franck's richly lyrical Violin Sonata is big-boned and deeply passionate. It combines dramatic intensity with rhetorical gesture. The composer wrote it in 1886 and gifted it as a wedding present to the Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. Since that time, its popularity has soared and it has established itself as a war-horse in the violin repertoire. Its demands on the pianist are equally challenging, and any performance's success is dependent on the achievement of a musical union. Despite the stiff competition from the likes of Kyung-Wha Chung and Radu Lupu, Augustin Dumay and Maria-João Pires and Christian Ferras and Pierre Barbizet, just to name three of my favorite pairings, this newcomer can hold its head high. In the opening movement, Miura and Tsujii contour the ebb and flow of the narrative, confidently negotiating the harmonic shifts and tempo variants. The second movement is turbulent and impressively virtuosic. I'm particular taken by the heartfelt anguish of the Recitativo, and the sheer joy and elation with which they approach the finale.

The inclusion of the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 1 is apposite, as beguiling lyricism likewise permeates the score. Miura's warm, burnished tone is ideal for this music. The opening movement's gentle, bucolic charm is eloquently conveyed. The Adagio, which follows, is played with unfeigned sincerity and radiant fragility, and there's nobility of gesture in the passionate moments of the ‘Regenlied’ finale.

Over the summer of 2018, Miura and Tsujii toured Japan together; their concerts sold out and received enthusiastic acclaim. This is the duo’s debut album, and Avex Classics have done them proud with a sympathetic venue, conferring an attractive bloom to the sound. Added to this, instrumental balance is second to none. I sincerely hope this will be the start of many recording collaborations. Fumiaki Miura plays a 1704 Stradivarius loaned by the Munetsugu Foundation.

Stephen Greenbank

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