Poulenc/Ravel/Debussy: Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Poulenc/Ravel/Debussy
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata; Violin Sonata
PERFORMER: Cho-Liang Lin (violin), Paul Crossley (piano)
Top billing for Poulenc: if Lin and Crossley are making a point, they do it with panache. They launch his death-haunted pieces with ferocious energy, a tonal richness far from many players’ hyped up tensions, 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 thought a poor relation of Poulenc’s wind sonatas – on to a new plane, or perhaps return to it the impact of its wartime origins.


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 Ravels’s short, little-played, early sonata. Crossley’s minute attention to sonority and steady pulse – there’s a dancing quality through out the disc – gives a lift to Lin’s singing, classical line in the later work.


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