Strauss, Franck

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COMPOSERS: Franck,Strauss
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Les nouveaux interprtes
WORKS: Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 18
PERFORMER: David Grimal (violin), Georges Pludermacher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMN 911681
Power of expression combined with unerring poise characterises violinist David Grimal’s approach to the sonatas by Strauss and Franck. His lavish, silvery tone is well suited to these stalwarts of the Romantic repertoire, and in pianist Georges Pludermacher he has found a worthy partner: both are unafraid to let the music breathe, tracing the ebb and flow of phrases with profound sensitivity.

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In Grimal’s hands, Strauss’s early Sonata bristles with fervour and energy. The middle movement, Andante cantabile, which demands such contrast between the singing lyricism of the opening and the impassioned brooding of the central section, is perhaps the most effective: Grimal sets out with an air of exquisite tenderness, then builds to give full weight to Strauss’s bold, bravura gestures.

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The Franck Sonata, too, is lithe and expressive, though Kyung-Wha Chung’s magical 1977 recording with Radu Lupu has the edge for its sheer emotional weight and intensity. Chung achieves a bountiful fluidity, and yet Grimal, for all his charm, doesn’t inhabit Franck’s rich phrases in the same effortless way. It is still a strong performance, though, Grimal and Pludermacher sustaining the dramatic tension throughout the second-movement Allegro and providing delicate serenity in the recitative opening of the third. Grimal’s portamento sometimes sounds lumpy in the bright opening melody of the final Allegro poco mosso, but when the theme returns in canon, both players are at their best, winding around each other with characteristic warmth and sensitivity. Catherine Nelson