Dvorak: Violin Sonata in F; Romantic Pieces, Op. 75; Sonatina in G

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Violin Sonata in F; Romantic Pieces, Op. 75; Sonatina in G
PERFORMER: Gil Shaham (violin) Orli Shaham (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 449 820-2
The best known of these works is the Sonatina, a gift from Dvorák to his children. Its slow movement was once popular as a salon piece, under such titles as Indian Lullaby; but for all the music’s touching innocence it is one of those works (there are others, more famous) whose over-reliance on pentatonic tunes make me wish Dvorák had never set foot in America.

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Much more neglected is the F major Violin Sonata Dvorák wrote for Joachim. It is true that the popular style of its finale, a sort of furiant, sits oddly with the Romantic cast of what has gone before; but the opening two movements are surely much too good for violinists to ignore. The four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75, began life as a set of miniatures for two violins and viola, though you’d never know it. In their familiar form they are effortlessly idiomatic, and it is a joy to hear them played so stylishly. Throughout this disc Gil and Orli Shaham impart not only a real love of music-making, but also a genuine feeling of spontaneity and freshness. The recorded sound is exemplary. Misha Donat