WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Five Melodies for violin and piano
PERFORMER: Gidon Kremer (violin); Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 431 803-2 DDD
Gidon Kremer does not try to woo his listeners with beauty of tone, but he is an intensely expressive and convincing player, and he shines the fiercest spotlight on the drama (real or imagined) of this music, abetted by Argerich’s brilliantly finished playing. It’s clear she’s listening to him, which isn’t always the case when virtuoso soloists play chamber music.
Prokofiev’s First Sonata is a much darker, more serious work than the better known Second Sonata, which he arranged from his Flute Sonata, and it responds much more readily to these artists’ approach. They seek out points of significance which aren’t really there beneath the detached charm of the Second Sonata’s first movement, though the Scherzo is breathtaking and the Finale spits and crackles as never before. They certainly take nothing for granted and are at least wonderfully united in exploiting every possible opportunity for expressive virtuosity, not least in the Five Melodies, whose modest title belies their variety of character. Adrian Jack