Fauré: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A, Op. 13; Berceuse, Op. 16; Franck: Violin Sonata in A; Panis angelicus; Debussy: La fille aux cheveux de lin (transcr. A. Hartmann); Beau soir
Kyung Wha Chung (violin), Kevin Kenner (piano)
Warner 9029570808 64:13 mins
Kyung-Wha Chung has always known how to construct an effective programme and this enticing French selection is no exception. The centrepiece is Franck’s Violin Sonata, a work that showcases Chung’s ability to move seamlessly from exquisite sweetness to explosive fire. This, her third recording, finds her a touch more expansive at key moments, while retaining a taught control on the overall direction. It is a performance that holds its head alongside Chung’s classic account with Radu Lupu (Decca), a comparison that also speaks volumes for the remarkable pianism of her partner on this disc, Kevin Kenner. Aided by close, but warm and natural recorded sound, there is a comforting plushness to his touch, yet the piano is still incisive in the turbulent second movement and rings out in jubilation in the final pages.
Given her pedigree in French repertoire, it seems remarkable that Chung has not previously recorded Fauré’s First Sonata, a work that is, in some ways, prophetic of Franck’s. Driven, yet lyrical in the opening movement, insouciant in the last and heartfelt in the Andante, this is a fine performance. It is surprising, then, that Chung makes hard work of the spritely third movement. Four miniatures round off the disc, the unassuming beauty of Fauré’s Berceuse and Franck’s more forthright Panis Anglicus framed by two Debussy works, Beau soir and La fille aux cheveux de lin in Hartmann’s attractive transcription. With lyricism to the fore, Chung and Kenner are utterly sublime in these pieces. ‘Beau soir’ indeed.