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LABELS: Brilliant
ALBUM TITLE: Respighi: Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonatas in D minor & B minor; Six Pieces
PERFORMER: Fabio Paggioro (violin); Massimiliano Ferrati (piano)


Respighi, principally celebrated for his Roman trilogy of symphonic poems, has been called Italy’s answer to Richard Strauss. Although neither composer found chamber music entirely conducive, their respective Violin Sonatas (specifically Respighi’s in B minor) have enjoyed increasing exposure in recent years. Collectors wanting a coupling of both works are currently spoilt for choice between the glorious virtuoso opulence of Tasmin Little and Piers Lane on Chandos, and a classic 1989 disc from Kyung-Wha Chung and Krystian Zimerman on scintillating form on Deutsche Grammophon.

Here, though, are two new releases that focus entirely on Respighi’s music for violin and piano. Fabio Paggioro and Massimiliano Ferrati play the B minor Sonata of 1917 with a gently cushioned, poetic intimacy, so one is less aware than usual of being set up for a big tune which never quite arrives. Also included are the Schumann-cum-Fauré Six Pieces Respighi composed around the turn of the 20th century, and the 1897 D minor Sonata, both of which receive sensitively phrased readings that capture the music’s lyrical freshness and spontaneity.

Both the earlier works are included in Emy Bernecoli and Massimo Giuseppe Bianchi’s Naxos recital, the first in a two-disc series of Respighi’s violin works. Observed more closely by the microphones in a less lively acoustic, the effect is as if the music’s Romantic halo has been removed. The Sonata’s occasional grand rhetorical gestures ideally need more room to breathe, but in the shared radiant intimacy of the Six Pieces, the Five Pieces of 1906 and the miniature Giga and Allegretto vivace, Bernecoli and Bianchi sound altogether more at home.


Julian Haylock