Callum Smart and Richard Uttley perform works by Fauré, Poulenc and Ravel

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COMPOSERS: Faure,Poulenc,Ravel
LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré • Poulenc • Ravel
WORKS: Fauré: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A; Ravel: Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera; Tzigane
PERFORMER: Callum Smart (violin), Richard Uttley (piano)


Callum Smart’s second recital disc starts with a bang and ends in a sublime whisper. He juxtaposes three generations of French chamber music, sandwiching Fauré between Poulenc and Ravel, bringing the same freshness at the grand age of 19 as his earlier disc. Even allowing for the fact that violinists have a larger repertoire, it is puzzling that Poulenc’s Violin Sonata has fared less well than those for wind instruments. It is an inventive work and, as reflected in this disc’s title of ‘La voix’, Poulenc allows the instrument to sing. Smart and pianist Richard Uttley are compelling advocates, capturing the impish humour and the underlying profundity. Smart’s delicate plucking in the slow movement is effective, though a similar approach in the final movement threatens to be overwhelmed by the piano rather than modifying its timbre.

The long-breathed lyricism of Fauré’s First Sonata frequently finds Smart soaring majestically with Uttley rippling away incisively underneath. There are certainly no complaints about the burnished beauty of Smart’s tone, and it is no small feat to make the overall pacing of all four movements sound so natural. The small quibble is that there could be a greater sense of shape within phrases and colour between them. By contrast both Ravel pieces are full of finely judged inflections, from delicious use of slides in the Tzigane to the twirling whisp of notes near the end of Pièce en forme de Habanera.


Christopher Dingle