Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Grieg
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 3
PERFORMER: Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Elena Mordkovitch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9184 DDD
Grieg’s strengths as a composer lie in his effortless expressive power and his assimilation of the folk music of his native Norway. The youthfully exuberant First Violin Sonata gives clear evidence of this in music of rich melodic invention, whilst the Second Sonata’s second movement strikingly reveals Grieg’s mastery of miniature form. The Third Sonata shows Grieg’s full maturity in features such as the slow movement’s simple, song-like melody and the clearly nationalistic flavour of its finale.

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There are several fine recordings of these pieces already in the catalogue and this new recording seems likely to live with the best of them with its continuous fluid phrasing and eloquence of expression. In the First Sonata the Mordkovitches capture the freshness of Grieg’s very personal style, particularly apparent in the improvisatory character of the second movement. The slow movements of the Second and Third are played with idiomatic intimacy, and dramatic contrast in music such as the finale of the last sonata is no less effectively achieved. The refinement of the performance is matched by superb recorded sound. Nicholas Rast