Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: Elgar: Respighi: Debussy Violin Sonata

Magazine article Gramophone

Debussy: Elgar: Respighi: Debussy Violin Sonata

Article excerpt

Debussy * Elgar * Respighi

Debussy Violin Sonata Elgar Violin Sonata, Op 82 Respighi Violin Sonata Sibelius Berceuse, Op79 No 6 James Ehnes vn Andrew Armstrong pf Onyx (F) ONYX4159 (69' * DDD)

Is James Ehnes capable of making a sound that isn't beautiful? If you've been following his career you'll already have your own answer to that. If you haven't, try from about 5'25" into tr 9: a passage of repose in Respighi's mountainous passacaglia, played by Ehnes with such liquid sweetness and unforced expression that you might find yourself listening to it over and over again. Or take the beginning of the finale of Elgar's Violin Sonata to hear how subtly Ehnes shades and shapes a line--and how pianist Andrew Armstrong makes it glow.

Those are merely examples: this programme of First World War-era violin sonatas is about much more than just ravishing sounds. Ehnes and Armstrong are intensely communicative duo partners and both can draw on a limitless palette of colours. They've chosen to bring out the darker facets of these three troubled works, charging the Debussy with a nervous energy that doesn't prevent either player from responding to its Harlequin-like

mood-shifts. …

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