Jan‡cek, Lutoslawski, Szymanowski

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Janacek,Lutoslawski,Szymanowski
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Violin Sonata, Subito; Partita, Mythes
PERFORMER: Isabelle Faust (violin), Ewa Kupiec (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901793
It is a tribute to the remarkably variegated nature of 20th-century music that two works written so close together in date by two composers, both with a comparably passionate involvement with their subject matter and a fearless approach to novel violin sonority, could be so different. Szymanowski’s Mythes have a rapt, sometimes elusive quality frequently coloured by the composer’s fascination with Debussy; Janážek’s Violin Sonata, composed at the start of the First World War when he, along with many in his native land hoped (vainly in the event) for the liberation of Moravia by the Russian army, is one of the composer’s most volatile works, mixing warm lyricism with abrupt gestures and shot through with pre-echoes of his opera Katya Kabanova.

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Both performers seem happiest in the expansive textures of the Szymanowski, although they also capture the fireworks of ‘Dryades et Pan’ magnificently. They are also highly effective in Lutos­awski’s breathless Subito and five-movement Partita. Apart from a beautifully judged performance of the ‘Ballada’, however, Janážek’s Sonata fares less well, with some overly hard-edged playing in the third and fourth movements which is not helped by the rather constricted recording of the piano. Jan Smaczny