Unusually the liner note deserves a mention ahead of the music: the fine pianist Jeremy Denk, half of this regular duo, manages to encapsulate the elusiveness of French romantic music with such insight in a few sharp sentences, his words almost shape the way we listen to this superbly played disc. Saint-Saëns' wistful and emotional Sonata No 1 and Ravel's bluesy, ironic sonata have a whipped, airy quality. Joshua Bell plays with fire and finesse, with Denk a powerful ally. Franck's dark-light violin sonata, mysterious, ardent and far more than the sum of its parts when played as majestically as here, forms the centrepiece of this seriously beguiling disc.
Jeremy Pelt stands as a strikingly unique musician, his work consistently sleek and polished yet bristling with the spirit of invention. A concise technician but also a charismatic improviser, Pelt flourishes in a lean, modernist language influenced by classic bebop phraseology. He delivers his lines with authority and economy, the pinpoint accuracy of his tone well-suited to the heightened elegance of his delivery. With Italian-born, New York-based pianist Simona Premazzi laying down the changes and Ben Allison's inventive bass lines, Jeremy is joined by the twin drums of Billy Drummond and Victor Lewis for an interesting session of originals, standards and music by Wayne Shorter and Clifford Jordan.