Ysaye: Violin Sonatas Nos 1-6, Op. 27

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COMPOSERS: Ysaye
LABELS: HMU
ALBUM TITLE: Ysaÿe
WORKS: Violin Sonatas Nos 1-6, Op. 27
PERFORMER: Tai Murray
CATALOGUE NO: HMU 907569

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Eugène Ysaÿe said that violinists should never forget to sing: a tough call in works as demanding as these Sonatas. But Tai Murray is the latest in a long line of soloists who have managed to conquer most of their technical difficulties and focus on the music. I say most: the opening of his First Sonata could be thrown off with greater abandon, and in general Murray could take more risks. The final movement of the Les furies Sonata is on the tame side, and doesn’t have the varied dynamics and colour of, say, Thomas Zehetmair.

Murray is more effective in the intimate moments. The central movements of the Second Sonata strike the right sombre note, with its Dies Irae running through the texture. The opening of the Fifth Sonata, with its depiction of dawn, is touching at the start, but doesn’t quite have a full blaze of glory at the end. The more contrapuntal movements are clean and well-balanced, if sometimes lacking rhythmic direction; Murray’s rubato isn’t always convincing. In general, Murray’s playing lacks character, and its lightness of tone doesn’t allow the most passionate moments their weight. A mildly disappointing issue, then, despite its excellent recording sound.

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Martin Cotton