Paul Viardot • Pauline Viardot

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Paul Viardot; Pauline Viardot
ALBUM TITLE: Paul Viardot • Pauline Viardot
WORKS: Paul Viardot – Violin Sonatas Nos 1-3; Pauline Viardot – Violin Sonatina in A minor
PERFORMER: Reto Kuppel (violin), Wolfgang Manz (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573607


One of the 19th century’s greatest singers, fêted by Berlioz, Liszt, Saint-Saëns and Brahms, Pauline Viardot’s compositions are now gaining deserved recognition. Her gracefully probing Violin Sonatina should really be a repertoire piece. This is not, as claimed, its first recording, for it featured in Diana Ambache’s recent Liberté. Egalité. Sororité collection (reviewed April 2016).

Here the Sonatina acts as a prelude to three sonatas by Pauline’s son, Paul, himself a prominent violinist. The similarity of name may be a touch confusing, compounded by the disc’s back cover switching their dates. There should be no misattribution regarding the music, though. Paul bemoaned living in the shadows of his famous mother and her sister (the soprano Maria Malibran), but, on the evidence of these pieces, he really is the diminutive of Pauline. The sonatas have attractive, lyrical motifs, but their development is dully predictable. Even the Third Sonata’s quintuple-time movement feels foursquare. For all Reto Kuppel and Wolfgang Manz’s committed advocacy, it is no mystery why these pieces are rarely heard.


Christopher Dingle