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French Violin Sonatas
Midori, Debussy, Poulenc
French Violin Sonatas
Genre: Classical
This beautiful recording displays Midori at her radiant best. Her virtuosity is entirely at the service of the music; her tone is lovely, pure, intense, and expressive, and she adapts it to style, mood, and atmosphere with...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Midori, Debussy, Poulenc, Saint-Saens
Title: French Violin Sonatas
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Release Date: 8/27/2002
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 696998969926

This beautiful recording displays Midori at her radiant best. Her virtuosity is entirely at the service of the music; her tone is lovely, pure, intense, and expressive, and she adapts it to style, mood, and atmosphere with bow and vibrato. The Poulenc Sonata, written in 1942-43 and dedicated to the memory of Federico Garcia Lorca, is unsettled and unsettling. Irresolute, unpredictable, it veers between stormy turbulence and pleading lyricism. The slow movement is dreamy, tender, improvisatory, with echoes of Debussy; the Finale, called "Presto tragico," is aggressive and almost cheerful, becoming truly tragic only in the last pages. Midori captures its mood swings, from passion to serenity, with unerring poise. The Debussy Sonata, written in 1917 and his final work, is a unique masterpiece. Free yet coherent in form, infinitely imaginative, it combines languid sensuousness, assertive vitality, and sardonic grotesquerie. One would never guess that he was battling illness and the ravages of war at the time. Clearing its formidable technical hurdles with consummate ease, Midori brings out the work's color, character, and expression, taking great liberties with tempo and rhythm, but carefully avoiding exaggeration. The Saint-Saëns Sonata, written in 1885, is a bravura piece for both instruments, but its rapturous melodies, original rhythms, and expressive contrast give it weight and substance. Its four movements are linked in pairs; the first alternates menacing drama with soaring lyricism, the second is a songful Aria, the third a charming Scherzo. In the Finale, the players chase each other in a marathon "perpetual motion," broken by an occasional melodic outburst in the violin. Naturally, the performance is dazzling, but even here, Midori succeeds in making the brilliance subservient to the music. The record's only flaw is the balance: the piano consistently overpowers the violin. --Edith Eisler

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CD Reviews

Fiery, sharp, delicate and bold, yet sophisticated
A Classical Fan | New York, NY USA | 11/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In this new disc, Midori shows an edgier side of her without losing her usual balancing act. She sounds miraculous throughout, especially in Poulenc. In Poulenc, sounding so fiery but also very calm at the same time, Midori effectively brings out dichotomizing qualities of the work in a razor sharp performance. Each very fine detail is delicately yet boldly realized with subtle shading of color with such a broad palette, but she never misses the whole view of the music. The contrast between the introverted side and the extroverted side is so beautifully rendered in great depth that the impression of the music would last for a very long time. Midori's Debussy sounds very very sharp and aggressive (in an extra refined manner as always). But I have to say that such conviction also sounds very imposing, and it lost spontaneity and fantasy from the piece. It felt like as if I were enjoying a very modern art piece in a minimal space... meaning lack of an organic quality; She sounds beautiful but not so engaging. I would recommend Kyung-Wha Chung/Radu Lupu for Debussy. Then, a great joy comes back with Saint Saens violin sonata. Sounding fiery again, but also with sweeter tones and mesmerizing technique, Midori sounds just breathtaking, especially at the dashing finale. Most violinists play this piece by beautifying each phrase in a calculative way, but Midori brings "wholeness" into the piece. She also gives the piece more weights, but also brings out some "lightness" with clarity and speed.I also have to mention that the piano (Robert McDonald) sounds just great. He shares the equal weight, and the communication between the violin and the piano is spot-on accurate yet spontaneous. Also I actually liked the recording balance. The piano comes much more forward and sounds magical."
Impressive Poulenc... 4 1/2 stars
Scott68 | Columbus, Ohio United States | 12/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Francis Poulenc wrote three violin sonatas and threw out the first two. We already know that this sonata was dedicated to the emotional violinist Ginette Neveu and that it was written between 1942-1943, think long and hard about the feelings of a French impressionist composer trying to compose while a war is going on for a soloist who plays with unbelievable beauty. Of course the result is a moody yet beautiful composition worthy of attention.There are few recordings of this work, of the ones I have heard include Grumiaux, Menuhin, Van Keulen, Suk (grandson of the composer), and Kang. I actually like the Grumiaux recording the best but it is only available in Japan and I liked this recording almost as much. Midori has a very colorful violin tone, a lush vibrato, and a sense of romance in her playing. I remembered thinking of how her Paganini Caprices recording was so colorful and romantic sounding. While I believe this is the wrong approach to play Paganini, I did think she had incredible warmth and feeling in her playing and wanted to hear her play something more in that direction. So here it is, a rarely played masterpiece that has plenty of room for emotional expression. This piece perfectly fits her style and she delivers with a great sounding recording.The Debussy sonata is much more popular but I don't know why. Forgive me but I don't really listen to it much because I really don't enjoy his violin sonata as much as his great composition "Images" 1 & 2 and many other chamber works. Therefore I will not comment on this performance of the Debussy.The Saint Saens is my favorite sonata ever written, I recommend the recording of Gil Shaham as alternative to this one.I completely recommend this CD without hesitation for a great performance of the Poulenc."