Bartók: Sonatas for violin and piano Nos 1 & 2

Album title:
Bartók: Sonatas for violin and piano Nos 1 & 2
Bela Bartók
Sonatas for violin and piano Nos 1 & 2; Sonata for solo violin
Barnabás Kelemen (violin), Zoltán Kocsis (piano)
Catalogue Number:
BBC Music Magazine
Bartók: Sonatas for violin and piano Nos 1 & 2


Over the years, Bartók’s two Violin Sonatas have enjoyed outstanding advocacy on disc, not least from Isabelle Faust and James Ehnes. This new, superbly recorded SACD release certainly matches, and in places exceeds, their white-hot intensity.

Barnábas Kelemen and Zoltán Kocsis respond with almost improvisatory spontaneity to Bartók’s rhapsodic invention, yet ensure that the structural integrity of this tough and intellectually challenging music is never compromised. The playing is probing and impassioned, employing the widest possible range of tonal colouring and articulation, from the frenzied and aggressive (especially in the final movement of the Second) to the remote and mysterious (the ominous dirge in the middle of the slow movement of the First). Familiar passages are experienced in a revelatory light, a good example being the sudden suppression of dynamics halfway through the first movement of the First Sonata, which has never sounded more eerie.

Kelemen’s performance certainly warrants consideration among the finest recordings of the Solo Sonata currently available. The technical brilliance of the playing, as reflected in the mesmeric clarity of the final movement is never in doubt. But Kelemen also brings a warmth, lyricism and nobility to the rest of
the work.

Erik Levi

Stravinsky • Borodin • Tchaikovsky • Musorgsky
Stravinsky • Borodin • Tchaikovsky • Musorgsky
previous review Article
Brahms: String Quartet; Clarinet Quintet
Brahms: String Quartet; Clarinet Quintet
next review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here