LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A; Violin Sonata in G minor ; Violin Sonata in A
PERFORMER: Pinchas Zukerman (violin) Marc Neikrug (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 62697 2 DDD
On the cover it looks for a moment as though the violinist is wearing the pianist’s glasses. It sounds like that, too. Neikrug distorts and overplays the opening of the Fauré in a boomy acoustic until Zukerman descends with a sweet-toned, romantic line. They just don’t see the music the same way, and neither is very idiomatic. The Allegro is less molto than ponderoso, and the performance never develops that character of steadiness fuelled by a blazing fire on which Fauré thrives.
The Debussy sings fulsomely instead of floating, and is slower-spirited than you expect, though Neikrug is tighter and more pointed. The vivid climax comes too late to wake up the rest. As soon as the Franck rocks gently into action, the recital sounds much more like the real thing. Zukerman’s fine tone builds steadily, and if the battles of the inner movements do not quite reach the ultimate in passionate spiritual intensity, they are presented with engaged directness, and resolve into a proper lyrical balm. The finale’s energy peaks in a superbly shaped final round of the canon.
Even so, as a useful compilation of three favourite sonatas this cannot be a first recommendation. If Fauré alone is your concern there is the strong duo of Amoyal and Rogé; Grumiaux couples both the Fauré sonatas too, plus the Franck; while for Franck and Debussy try Chung and Lupu. Robert Maycock