Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok: 'The Works for Violin and Piano'

Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok: 'The Works for Violin and Piano'

Article excerpt

Bartok

'The Works for Violin and Piano'

Violin Sonatas--No 1, Op 21 Sz75; No, Sz76; E minor. Solo Violin Sonata, Sz117. Rhapsodies--No 1, Sz86; No 2, Sz89. Andante. Romanian Folk Dances, Sz56 Carr Szekely). Piano Sonata, Sz80 Tanja Becker-Bender vn Peter Nagy pf SWR Music (F) (2) SWR19003CD (147' * DDD)

A very useful double-pack, this, which, although not always absolutely top-of-the-league performance-wise, is certainly good enough to convey the essence of some great 20th-century chamber music. The earliest works included are the rarely heard Andante in A major for violin and piano (1902) and, rather more familiar (at least since Andre Gertler recorded it for Supraphon), the Straussian E minor Violin Sonata, into whose rhapsodising world Tanja Becker-Bender ushers us with warmth and conviction.

The Sonata opens the second disc and is immediately followed by the wonderful Solo Violin Sonata, written in 1944 for Yehudi Menuhin, who 'tamed' some colouristic microtonal writing in the Presto finale, an option that Becker-Bender takes here, whereas Barnabas Kelemen gives us the microtones with no holds barred. Becker-Bender voices the fugue's tiered opening with skill and weaves a world of mystery into the 'Melodia', darkening her tone effectively. Thereafter we have another solo work, but not for violin. Pianist Peter Nagy holds the high musical standard with a memorable performance of the Piano Sonata, so often a vehicle for percussive overkill but which in this context is full of differing grades of tone and colour, especially in the finale.

The first disc offers the two Rhapsodies and the two mature violin sonatas. …

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