Respighi: Violin Sonata in D minor; ‘Violin Sonata in B minor; Six Pieces for Violin & Piano

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LABELS: Claves
WORKS: Violin Sonata in D minor; ‘Violin Sonata in B minor; Six Pieces for Violin & Piano
PERFORMER: Ingolf Turban (violin), Katia Nemirovitch-Dantchenko (piano)
The continuing disinterment of Respighi’s copious student production of chamber music at least demonstrates how determined he was, from the first, to be taken seriously as a composer in fields other than the traditional Italian preserve of opera. The youthful D minor Sonata (1897), recorded here for the first time, is one of the best of them: it suggests links with Busoni’s early sonatas and with Strauss, but principally Brahms, and is (as you’d expect) well written for the violin, with a lilting scherzo for finale. It’s no major discovery, but Turban, a Respighi specialist, and Nemirovitch-Dantchenko, whose piano-playing proves she is not just a famous name, do it proud. The Six Pieces (1902-5) are mainly Italianate bon-bons, but the ‘Serenata’ would make a good encore and the concluding ‘Leggenda’ is more weighty. Here the acoustic changes: the piano is more boomy and distant. The duo saves its best shot for the mature B minor Sonata – a substantial work championed by Heifetz among others, which just consistently misses greatness, but does so more enliveningly than many a polished masterpiece. I’ve never heard the appassionato section of the slow movement more dramatically done, and the performers even bring a fine cogency to the baggy Passacaglia finale. Cheerfully recommended. Calum MacDonald