Strauss/Respighi

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COMPOSERS: Strauss/Respighi
LABELS: DG Galleria
WORKS: Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 18/Violin Sonata in B minor
PERFORMER: Kyung Wha Chung (violin) Krystian Zimerman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 457 907-2 Reissue (1989)
Both sonatas ask the pianist to be the violinist’s knight in shining armour, and Zimerman’s finely nuanced presence helps to make these instant benchmark recordings. Not that the repertoire is as essential as the twinning of the Franck Violin Sonata and Szymanowski’s Mythes in the same series, where he partners fellow Pole Kaja Danczowska. But Chung’s powerful lyricism lends wings to Strauss’s somewhat placid melodies, and she works well with Zimerman to hide the fact that Respighi’s presentation is more interesting than his substance in the rather fusty Violin Sonata of 1917, occasionally sounding like the mature Strauss in chromatic waltz vein but rarely as memorable. Here, at least, the final Passacaglia takes us on to a higher level of rigorous teamwork, while Strauss in 1887 merely resumes his vein of fledgling heroism – tempered, as always, by sheer beauty of tone from both players. David Nice

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