Beethoven, Saint-Sa‘ns, Schubert

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Saint-Sa‘ns,Schubert
LABELS: HMV
WORKS: Violin Sonata in C minor, Op. 30/2
PERFORMER: Viviane Hagner (violin), Nicole Hagner (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 5 73728 2 (available only from HMV stores)
This is an auspicious debut recording from young Germans Viviane and Nicole Hagner: a selection of repertoire favourites performed with compelling freshness and spontaneous exuberance. Violinist Viviane plays with a brilliant richness of tone, emphasised by a very fast vibrato which gives a dark, viola-like headiness to the lower strings and real brightness to the upper ones. Nicole gives eloquent support, her playing characterised by a refined transparency of texture.

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Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30/2, is full of poise, warmly expressive yet never over-sentimentalised. The glorious slow movement is particularly fine: Nicole brings a well-judged and sensitive rubato to the piano’s opening chords, and Viviane plays with graceful charm. The third movement is lithe, sparkling and muscular, while in the finale, Viviane brings wild-edged power to the violin’s dashing runs.

Fiendish virtuosity from both players ensures a sparkling performance of Saint-Saëns’s Havanaise, Viviane excelling in the sweet-voiced lyricism of the opening Allegretto lusinghiero and the rippling spiccato of the Allegro, and Nicole responding with a pleasant lightness of touch.

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The piano is rather too far forward in the opening Andante molto of Schubert’s C major Fantasy, but the balance settles with the leaping brilliance of the Allegretto and the tenderly sketched, long-breathed phrases of the middle movement, Andantino. A riotous encore – Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo capriccioso – brings this delightful disc to a close. Catherine Nelson