WORKS: Violin Sonata, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin)Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56815 2
The two most popular violin sonatas in the repertoire, played by Perlman and Argerich: no one could accuse EMI of taking a commercial risk. These are ‘live’ performances, and as always when Martha Argerich is involved the voltage is high. The long development section of the Kreutzer Sonata’s opening movement, in particular, generates tremendous excitement; and the swirling semiquavers in the second movement of the Franck rush by like the wind. Inevitably, there is a price to pay for all this impetuosity: a few moments of sour intonation from Perlman in the first movement of the Kreutzer, a couple of bars in the theme of the variation slow movement where Argerich’s left hand goes curiously awry; and a final A major chord which has a prominent B natural in the bass. Such blemishes are not serious: more disturbing is Argerich’s languorous treatment of the opening bars of the Franck, which bears no relation to the tempo once the violin enters.
Perlman has already recorded both these works with Ashkenazy (Decca). Their Kreutzer has recently been reissued, and it still sounds very well, though the tarantella-style finale is rather sedate in comparison with this new version. As for the Franck, there is much to enjoy in the 1977 recording by Kyung-Wha Chung and Radu Lupu — a touch cooler than Perlman and Argerich, perhaps, but their more moderate tempo for the second movement allows for greater clarity, and means that the music’s
underlying melodic line can emerge with more weight. Misha Donat