Romanza: Sara Trickey and Daniel Tong perform works by Fauré and D Matthews

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COMPOSERS: D Matthews,Faure
LABELS: Deux-Elles
ALBUM TITLE: Romanza
WORKS: Fauré: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A; Romance in B flat; D Matthews: Adonis; Aria; Romanza
PERFORMER: Sara Trickey (violin), Daniel Tong (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DXL 1172

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Fauré in forthright and lyrical vein makes a slightly odd coupling with British composer David Matthews. Though in the booklet note Matthews professes to share and admire Fauré’s ‘pursuit of beauty’, his harmonic language, if occasionally touching on Fauré’s mercurial style, tends to be darker, even sometimes quite muddy in comparison.

That said, the album starts enticingly with one of Matthews’s most sensuous and French-sounding works. Written specifically for Sara Trickey, Adonis suits her lightly-worn lyricism, and she and her pianist Daniel Tong play this three-movement work with evident affection. The most dominant influence, though, is Britten (whose assistant Matthews was for some years), evident from the violin’s opening lyrical melody – albeit combined with a very JanáΩek-like burble in the piano. More or less programmatic, the work describes in three movements Adonis’s birth, his death during a boar hunt, and his metamorphosis into a flower. The reflective and somewhat inconclusive final movement is well complemented by the lively and impassioned opening of Fauré’s Sonata, which emerges like a plausible finale. Trickey and Tong’s highly engaging performance highlights the Sonata’s late-Romantic quality which so influenced Franck and his circle.

Rather less successful is the following Aria by Matthews. Originally composed for Lorraine McAslan, it uses the dour and rather curdled harmonic style of Britten’s late works; Trickey might have been more persuasive with greater confidence and eloquence. She appears more at home in Matthews’s Romanza, which follows Fauré’s charming Romance and itself winds up with a waltz Prokofiev might have composed.

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Daniel Jaffé