Magazine article Gramophone

Chamber: Barnabas Kelemen and Zoltan Kocsis's Strong Partnership Prevails Again

Magazine article Gramophone

Chamber: Barnabas Kelemen and Zoltan Kocsis's Strong Partnership Prevails Again

Article excerpt

WINNER

Bartok Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Solo Violin Sonata

Barnabas Kelemen is one of the finest violinists treading the current circuit, a fearless virtuoso whose grasp of the music he performs, and of Bartok's music in particular, squares with that of the best of his Hungarian contemporaries, such as conductor and composer Ivan Fischer and pianist and conductor Zoltan Kocsis, the latter a frequent performing and recording partner. Kelemen and Kocsis's Violin Concerto No 2 by Bartok raised a storm of critical approval even in the face of coundess excellent recent rivals (Zehetmair, Steinbacher, Ehnes). The reason? An artful blend of fantasy, fire and intellectual rigour, facilitated by an amazing technique and a frequently beautiful sound.

Kocsis plays the piano on this CD, which focuses on three of the last century's most challenging violin masterworks. In the two sonatas with piano (early 1920s), Kelemen and Kocsis wresde with each knotty phrase, allowing themselves repose only when the burning eye of the sun gives way to the mysteries of night. The fiercely dissonant First Sonata is the less compromising of the two, whereas the Second lies a little nearer the soul of the Hungarian folk tradition. The solo sonata is very different, a late work written for Yehudi Menuhin and with a Presto finale that features optional quarter-tones, a colourful ploy of which Kelemen makes good use. He voices the Fuga second movement as if he were able to split himself into a dozen players, makes prayerful music of the mysterious Melodia and rises manfully to the challenges of the opening Tempo di ciaccona. …

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