Franck/Saint-Sa‘ns/Debussy

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Franck/Saint-Sa‘ns/Debussy
LABELS: Telstar Revelation
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
PERFORMER: Yehudi Menuhin (violin)Alexander Makarov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RV 10067 ADD mono
Menuhin, Richter and Oistrakh in live performances of French repertoire are a very enticing prospect indeed. These are certainly not interpretations for the faint-hearted. Pre-dating the rise of fanatical adherence to the score, which so often neuters its legitimacy by constricting the range of interpretational possibilities, these performances reveal as much about the artists (interacting with the audience) as they do about the composer.

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Unfortunately the disc devoted to Menuhin’s Moscow recitals is afflicted by particularly poor sound even for the period (late 1945) so that the piano solo which opens the second movement of the Franck Sonata is reduced to a blur of distortion. Richterdisc fares marginally better, though it is also a pity that we are not allowed to hear the appreciation of the, at times vocal, audiences.

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Nevertheless, those who are more concerned with the music than the quality of reproduction will find these discs immensely rewarding. The sound of a Russian orchestra in Les Djinns is particularly illuminating, especially since distinct national styles are rapidly disappearing. Both accounts of the Franck Violin Sonata verge on the self-indulgent, but on this evidence such indulgence should perhaps be encouraged rather than vilified. Christopher Dingle