Bart—k, Debussy, Ravel

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Debussy,Ravel
LABELS: Ambroisie
ALBUM TITLE: Violin Sonatas
WORKS: Violin Sonata; plus DVD ‘Reflection’, a Film by Frédéric Delasques
PERFORMER: David Grimal (violin), Georges Pludermacher (piano)
Whether or not violinist David Grimal may have been creating a hostage to fortune by giving the subtitle Reflection to a disc featuring sonatas by Debussy, Ravel and Bartók, there’s little doubt that his performances have tremendous musical integrity and are deeply felt. The contemplative side of his playing is perfectly epitomised in the first movement of the Debussy Sonata where certain passages achieve an almost trance-like state. Perhaps this goes against the grain of Debussy’s tempo marking of Allegro vivo and the more urgent delivery of such violinists as Kyung-Wha Chung (Decca) or Laurent Korcia (Naïve), but it is no less convincing. Likewise Grimal views the ‘Blues’ movement from the Ravel Sonata in far more sweetly nostalgic terms than does Vadim Repin on Warner (currently only available as part of a box set), who finds some disturbingly sinister implications behind the musical argument and carries this through to the relentless semiquavers of the Presto Finale with greater dynamism than in the present performance. Yet in their overall conception of the work’s narrative Grimal and Pludermacher may well be nearer the mark, drawing far clearer structural threads between their pensive account of the opening movement and the rest of the Sonata.


The tensions between melancholic introspection and powerful defiance are more finely drawn in the Bartók Solo Sonata, and here Grimal seems in his element, projecting an almost improvisatory feeling to the solo line without sacrificing a sure sense of direction – an almost essential pre-requisite for sustaining the long and imposing Tempo di Ciaccona. Although there are other performances of all these works that I would not really want to be without, this remains an extremely thought-provoking and beautifully recorded disc. Erik Levi