Bartok: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2

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LABELS: Biddulph
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2
PERFORMER: Eugene Drucker (vln), Diane Walsh (pno)
Colourful, vivid and intense readings of Bartók’s music for violin, with and without piano, are the hallmark of this pair of discs. Although violinist Eugene Drucker’s tone has a certain gritty quality compared to masterful interpreters such as György Pauk, he brings a gripping, nervous energy to Bartók’s edgy, fragmented phrases and moments of yearning passion. His command of the delicate complexities of the Solo Sonata is exemplary, from the racing chromaticism of the Fuga to the richness and drive of the final Presto. Drucker is joined by Philip Setzer for the 44 Duos, which are finely judged; the simpler melodies of Books 1 and 2 are gentle and never over-forced, while the later pieces are incisive and yet sweetly lyrical. The broader concerns of the two Violin Sonatas are utterly compelling. Drucker’s playing is by turns bold and brash, delicate and melancholy, and Walsh perfectly matches his sensitivity of expression. Catherine Nelson