Over the years, Bartók’s two Violin Sonatas have enjoyed outstanding advocacy on disc, not least from Isabelle Faust and James Ehnes. This new, superbly recorded SACD release certainly matches, and in places exceeds, their white-hot intensity. Barnábas Kelemen and Zoltán Kocsis respond with almost improvisatory spontaneity to Bartók’s rhapsodic invention, yet ensure that the structural integrity of this tough and intellectually challenging music is never compromised…….Erik Levi @ classical-music.com
The great composer of piano music Nikolai Medtner also wrote three violin sonatas (and other works for the instrument), two of which are recorded here. The ‘Sonata Epica’ is, as its title suggests, one of the most ambitious and colossal works in the repertoire, and without doubt one of the most important violin sonatas of the twentieth century. It draws deeply on Medtner’s Russian heritage, with intimations of orthodox chant and folk dances. Its continual syncopations show why Medtner was fleetingly regarded as one of Russia’s most progressive composers during the first decade of the twentieth century, yet also contrast with an essentially conservative harmonic idiom. The Sonata No 1 is more understated and reminiscent of Fauré.
Works for violin and piano are an important part of Cyril Scott’s chamber music. This disc presents three sonatas which span his output. The capricious and ruminative First Violin Sonata ranks among the most convincing and successful of his earlier large-scale compositions. Sonata Melodica is a more relaxed yet equally quixotic work, while the Third Violin Sonata is one of the most inventive from his later years.