Debussy/Faure/Poulenc

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy/Faure/Poulenc
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Violin Sonata in G minor
PERFORMER: Isabelle van Keulen (violin)Ronald Brautigam (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-1527-2 DDD
After becoming Eurovision Young Musician of the Year in 1984, when she was 17, Isabelle van Keulen was hailed as Holland’s answer to Anne-Sophie Mutter, and an exclusive contract with Philips followed. However, it was never her aim to be a lone virtuoso, and the intervening years have found her in her true element at the Lockenhaus and Kuhmo festivals playing chamber music with colleagues. No longer exclusively on Philips, she proves on this sparkling disc just what a whole musician she has become. She and Brautigam approach all three pieces with exactly the right degree of fantasy, urbanity and passion. Her sound is febrile and voluptuous, though every detail is diamond bright. She frees the exotic modality of Debussy’s dense, final work.

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Van Keulen’s natural instinct for song (she is also a jazz singer), and the rhythmic verve of both players, rescue the Fauré from odd moments of salon schmaltz. The clear brightness of her Guadagnini could perhaps be more veiled in Poulenc’s bitter-sweet slow movement, but both players capture the brassy desperation in the Presto tragico. And the sudden, exhausted coda at the end speaks of real despair. The sheer emotional engagement of this playing is irresistible. Helen Wallace