L Boulanger: Nocturne; Debussy: Beau Soir; Enescu: Impressions d’enfance (arr. solo violin); Hubay: Fantaisie brillante; Poulenc: Violin Sonata; Ravel: Violin Sonata in G
Coco Tomita (violin), Simon Callaghan (piano)
Orchid Classics ORC 100194 57:45 mins
The Japanese violinist Coco Tomita won the string category of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2020, and was still a teenager when she recorded this debut recital a year later.
In the opening movement of Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2 Tomita combines tonal sweetness with a welcome tensile element, interleaving subtly with Simon Callaghan’s sensitively calibrated account of the pointillistic piano part. In the central ‘Blues’ movement Tomita enjoys the jazzy swoops and slides without over-doing them, and her pizzicatos have a crack of emotional urgency to them. The ‘Perpetuum mobile’ finale can be a babble, but together Tomita and Callaghan hit a groove facilitating both clean articulation and a gathering excitement. This is a fresh, consistently stimulating account of Ravel’s sonata, all the more effective for its avoidance of special pleading.
In Poulenc’s Violin Sonata sparks fly in the opening movement, as they should, the astringent edges sharpened by Tomita’s clean attack and spot-on intonation. From the slow movement she and Callaghan distil an elusive, wistful tenderness, and the finale inks in the elements of tragedy Poulenc wanted, yet it’s glintingly alive to his humour too.
Among the shorter pieces Tomita’s heartfelt lyricism in Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne and Debussy’s Beau soir catches the ear particularly. Hubay’s Fantaisie brillante on Bizet’s Carmen demonstratesTomita’s virtuoso credentials, although the piece itself is instantly expendable. Overall, though, this is a richly promising recording debut.