LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Itzhak Perlman & Emanuel AX Perorm Violin Sonatas by Fauré & Strauss
WORKS: Fauré: Violin Sonata No. 1; Strauss: Violin Sonata in E flat
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin), Emanuel Ax (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 481 1774
Aged 70 and 66 respectively, Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax have been playing as a duo in concert for many years, yet remarkably this is their first official recording together, the first time Perlman has recorded these particular works and his first sonata recording since he re-recorded the Beethoven Kreutzer and Franck sonatas in 1998 with Martha Argerich. Although on paper Fauré’s tantalising understatement and Strauss’s swaggering machismo may appear opposed, these are relatively early works that find both composers flexing their creative muscles. Neither is especially demanding violinistically, although the piano writing is quite hazardous in places.
If there is an increasing tendency nowadays among the younger generation to semantically re-evaluate the classics of the past, Perlman and Ax exalt in the music’s cantabile trajectory with an espressivo warmth and youthful sensitivity to emotional narrative that recalls their 1970s prime. Far from imposing a misty-eyed, old-world maturity on this glorious music, they sound as though they are discovering the music’s special qualities for the first time. Magic moments abound, including a classic Perlman ‘how does he do that?’ exquisite micro-portamento near the start of the Fauré scherzo’s middle section, where he takes the high C sharp of a repeated phrase on the A string!
Yet the revelation here is a performance of the Strauss Sonata’s central Andante, which creates the impression of two old chums improvising (magically) without a care in the world. Forget the meagre playing time, this alone is worth the price of admission. Julian Haylock