Faure: Works for violin & piano (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: Arte Nova
ALBUM TITLE: Faure: Works for violin & piano (complete)
WORKS: Works for violin & piano (complete)
PERFORMER: Alban Beikircher (violin), Roy Howat (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 92763 2

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This is really Fauré’s more than complete violin-and-piano music. To the two magnificent sonatas, separated by more than 40 years, are added not only his four original miniatures, including the lovely Berceuse, but also versions of the familiar Sicilienne and a less familiar dance written for Dumas’s play Caligula. These arrangements, both made on justifiable grounds, are by Roy Howat, who’s also responsible for the editions of the other works and the useful booklet notes, and who plays Fauré’s taxing piano parts with great fluency. Sadly his partner, the young German violinist Alban Beikircher, produces a stream of silvery tone of deadly uniformity – accurate and mostly well-tuned, but lacking in variations of dynamics or tone-colour or any sense of lyrical expansion in response to the shape of a phrase, an underlying shift of harmony, or the overall direction of a movement. Of course, given the completeness of the programme, the reliability of the editions and the clarity of the recording, the disc is useful as a kind of reference tool – and the price is a further incentive. But, as far as the sonatas are concerned, a few pounds more will get you a Hyperion Helios reissue with much more subtly inflected performances by Krysia Osostowicz and Susan Tomes, though in a recording which gives the violin a glassy, disembodied quality; or the older but better balanced recording by Arthur Grumiaux and Paul Crossley, which holds the interest in a way this new disc can’t with a combination of authority, sensitivity and charm.

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Anthony Burton