SOUNDS OF AMERICA
Other highlights include the pounding drums, ritual chant and Juli Orlandini’s lovely solo soprano in We can mend the sky (Warda Mohammed); a lovely choral melody in Proud music of the storm (Whitman); exuberance tempered by supplication in Alleluia; and nonsense syllables in a snappy production number called Ner ner, meant to leave an audience cheering with a final radiant, audiophile riff. Laurence Vittes
‘Cortège’ Bacri Sonata breve, Op 45 L Boulanger Cortègea. D’un matin de printempsa. Nocturnea Debussy Violin Sonataa Poulenc Violin Sonataa Véronique Mathieu vn aJasmin Arakawa pf Navona F NV6305 (48’ • DDD)
I S A A C
J U L
P H O T O G R A P H Y
This is a nicely if slightly prosaically performed recital of French violin sonatas (or set of three pieces in the case of Lili Boulanger). Véronique Mathieu is a sensitive, capable player who studied in her native Canada (at Quebec Conservatoire, McGill University and Toronto’s Glenn Gould School), as well as at Indiana University, where she met her accompanist, Jasmin Arakawa. Arakawa’s debut recital was broadly well received in these pages (2/17), and their first disc together (works by Boulez, Donatoni and Lutosławski) was released in 2017 (NV6105).
Their new programme opens with a cool, competent account of Debussy’s late Sonata. Compared to Capuçon and Chamayou’s beautifully understated yet – as Richard Bratby noted – sensuous recording, Mathieu and Arakawa are not as polished, with some mildly edgy intonation here and there, but their ensemble is spot-on. If they do not match their rivals’ poise in Debussy, their accounts of Lili Boulanger’s 1917-18 triptych are surer, not least their sparkling rendition of the concluding D’un matin de printemps.
The Sonata breve (1994) by Nicolas Bacri is brevity indeed; too much so for its own good, only the central Cantilena avoiding the impression of truncation. The work doubles as Bacri’s Solo Violin Sonata No 1 and has a further subtitle of Sonatina in omaggio a Mozart. Mathieu seems more at home with Bacri’s more gramophone.co.uk
Sensitive musician: Véronique Mathieu plays French violin sonatas angular writing, likewise in the concluding Poulenc Sonata (1942-43), written as a memorial to Lorca. Her playing may not, perhaps, match Kopatchinskaja for virtuosity but is very nicely phrased throughout. The partnership with Arakawa is delightfully spotlit in the finale, though I must say I prefer Borissova and Battarino’s recent more expansive and more sympathetically recorded rival, which lets the music breathe; Navona’s slightly antiseptic sound does not help either performer. Guy Rickards Debussy – selected comparison: R Capuçon, Chamayou (12/17) (ERAT) 9029 57739-6 Poulenc – selected comparisons: Kopatchinskaja, Leschenko (2/18) (ALPH) ALPHA387 Borissova, Battarino (11/19) (SHEV) SH226
‘A Lad’s Love’ Britten Canticle No 2, ‘Abraham and Isaac’a. Fish in the Unru led Lakes Gurney In Flandersb. Ludlow and Temeb
GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2020 III