Shostakovich: Violin and Viola Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Violin and Viola Sonatas
PERFORMER: Shlomo Mintz (violin/viola), Victoria Postnikova (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2292-45804-2 DDD
A rare and valuable pairing, this: the Violin Sonata which Shostakovich dedicated to David Oistrakh and which robustly survives comparison with his own recording on Harmonia Mundi; and the Viola Sonata, previously tackled by Nobuko Imai and Tabea Zimmermann, and taken on by Mintz with the justification that he does play viola in chamber music when he gets the chance.

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In this close, but never stifling recording accoustic, Mintz draws a fine charcoal line as the opening of the Violin Sonata stretches out into its 12-note theme. Growing in brilliance and virtuosity as the work progresses, this performance is above all pleasing for its intellectual and emotional sobriety.

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The Viola Sonata lacks a little fullness of tone in this spectral but also intensely passionate work. Both pieces have a grim central scherzo leering, mask-like, from between the two slow movements, and in both, Victoria Postnikova’s lucid piano playing crystallizes the irony lurking at their heart. Hilary Finch