ALBUM TITLE: Franck, Shostakovich
WORKS: Violin Sonatas
PERFORMER: Sergey Kachatryan (violin)Lusine Kachatryan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: V 5122
With its introverted levels of expression, Shostakovich’s Violin Sonata inhabits a very bleak and discomforting landscape, one which can at times seem unremittingly grey. The somewhat improvisatory opening movement is particularly elusive, its subdued dynamics and spare two-part textures rarely rising above a mezzo forte. Brother and sister Sergey and Lusine Khachatryan don’t quite convey the same numbed stillness here as Leila Josefowicz and John Novacek on Warner Classics. Yet thereafter the performance really springs to life. In the gallows humour of the central scherzo, one of the composer’s most grimly relentless movements, the Khachatryans pack far more of a punch than josefwicz and Novacek in the aggressive dialogue between the two instruments. The Finale is even more impressive, the Khachatryans delivering an epic performance with real sense of direction, and finding far more subtleties in the music than is implied by the very fugal markings in the score. As one might expect, the Khachatryans’ performance of the Franck Sonata has a wonderful unanimity in terms of interpretative approach and ensemble. Supported by a particularly atmospheric recording,the opening movement really captures a feeling of dreaminess and reflection. But this mood tends to dominate too much of the rest of the work, and there are times where for all the passion and intensity of the playing, a bit more forward momentum would be desirable. In particular, the reluctance to really let rip at the climactic moments in the ensuing Allegro seems inhibiting in comparison with the edge-of-your-seat performance from Kyung-Wha Chung and Radu Lupu on Decca.