Faure: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Morceau de concours; Andante, Op. 75; Romance, Op. 28; Berceuse, Op. 16

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COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Morceau de concours; Andante, Op. 75; Romance, Op. 28; Berceuse, Op. 16
PERFORMER: Pierre Amoyal (violin)Pascal Rogé (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 436 866-2 DDD

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Two ages of Fauré are spanned by the sonatas: his eager, still highly Romantic and fresh early maturity, and the wise, restless concentration to which he grew ever closer – less varied and immediate on the surface, but haunting in the secretive harmonies that suggest as much as they state outright. The First Sonata has always attracted more performers, because there is more for a violinist to show off with. This time a long-standing partnership of superb chamber players has the nous to step up the intensity several degrees for No. 2, reflecting the even greater focus of the composition. Both performances are warmly felt and securely realised. Rogé has the steady gaze, and in the Scherzo of No. 1 the sparkle, while Amoyal offers the passing impulses and the expansiveness, deploying a bright, lean tone which sweetens at turning-points. They catch the rise and fall of phrases, the balance between paragraphs, the long-term sense of direction, at speeds that are fluid but all of a piece, never the steady mechanical flow that can cramp many performances of Fauré. You can find more extrovert approaches, but Amoyal and Rogé have an unequalled sense of being at ease with the music and still excited by what they can discover in it. The sound, more big hall than intimate, is faithful and fair to both. In the short pieces they take just as much care. The Morceau de concours, a sight-reading test from 1903, is not as easy as it sounds, and the Andante is like a bridge between the worlds of the sonatas, simplified in style but still typically serious in tone – parts of it may come from an abandoned concerto. For the rest, listeners can mostly relax.

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Robert Maycock