Poulenc/Ravel/Debussy: Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata (posth.); Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré; Violin Sonata

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Poulenc/Ravel/Debussy
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata (posth.); Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré; Violin Sonata
PERFORMER: Cho-Liang Lin (violin), Paul Crossley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 66839 DDD
Top billing for Poulenc: if Lin and Crossley are making a point, they do it with panache. They launch his death-haunted Sonata with ferocious energy, tonal richness, and an intensity that stays taut when the music turns tuneful. Result: a grandeur of expression and a shocking final pay-off that raise the sonata – often a poor relation – onto a new plane, or perhaps return to it the impact of its wartime origins.

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Some of the warm acoustic colouring comes from a successful handling of the St John’s, Smith Square, resonance, which gives a laid-back air that suits Ravel’s short, little-played, early sonata. Crossley’s minute attention to sonority and steady pulse gives a lift to Lin’s singing, classical line in the later work.

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Tzigane? If you must play the fake gypsy, play it dirty. This, though, is immaculately high-powered. Debussy comes across more strong and calm than fanciful: a fine performance. But it’s Poulenc, for once, who overshadows him. Robert Maycock