Ravel: Tzigane; Piece en forme de habanera; Violin Sonata (1897); Violin Sonata in G; Sonata for Violin and Cello; Kaddish

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COMPOSERS: Ravel
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Tzigane; Piece en forme de habanera; Violin Sonata (1897); Violin Sonata in G; Sonata for Violin and Cello; Kaddish
PERFORMER: Chantal Juillet (Violin), Pascal Roge (Piano), Truls Mork (Cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 448 612-2
For all its pyrotechnics and joie de vivre, Ravel’s Tzigane has always struck me until now as being a rather domesticated evocation of gypsy fiddling. Whether provided by piano or orchestra, the accompaniment firmly places the piece in the urbane setting of the concert hall. This marvellous disc of Ravel’s violin works has forced me to revise that opinion for, as in the first performances, Tzigane is accompanied by a piano lutheal. A lutheal (for those as ignorant as myself) is basically an attachment which pinches the strings of a piano, thus creating an impression of a cross between a cimbalom and a guitar, with an occasional hint of prepared piano. The result in Tzigane is a thrilling sense of earthy rusticity, the piano providing almost as many sparks as the violin.

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The three magnificent sonatas on this disc inhabit totally different worlds from each other and are performed accordingly. My one reservation with Juillet is that some of the husky scraping from Tzigane has crept into the more delicate moments of the violin and piano sonatas. Rogé’s playing is, as ever, utterly exquisite. Christopher Dingle