WORKS: The Fairy’s Kiss (arranged for violin & piano); Sonogramm I; Piano Trio No. 5 (Calliope’s Descent from Olympus). Violin Sonata, Op. 11
PERFORMER: Christos Kanettis (violin), Alfons Kontarsky (piano), Reinhard Latzko (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: GMCD 7261
It is difficult to know exactly to whom this release will appeal. Aficionados of Stravinskian neo-classicism would surely relish the prospect of hearing a decent version of the rarely recorded violin and piano arrangement of the Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss. But the present performance doesn’t really fit the bill. Kanettis’s opening double-stops hardly give cause for confidence, so lacking are they in any sense of line, and the rest of the score seems bereft of magic, charm or humour.
Similar problems emerge in the Einem Sonata, which surely requires a much lighter touch in its outer movements if the attractive distillation of jazzy and Latin-American dance rhythms is to make a real impact. Far more convincing in this respect are the two works by Paul Engel, a contemporary Austrian composer who writes strongly tonal music that is fresh and direct, but without sounding derivative. Kanettis and Kontarsky are particularly effective in projecting the Beethovenian intensity of Sonogramm I. Moreover, while some of the ostinato patterns in the extended piano trio Calliope’s Descent from Olympus outstay their welcome, the performance has the kind of immediacy and involvement that is sadly absent from the rest of the disc. Erik Levi