This is the 15th recording on Naïve by one of the label’s best selling artists, the renowned French cellist Anne Gastinel. On this new CD she is accompanied by her regular piano musical partner Claire Désert in three essential works of the French chamber repertoire, César Franck’s much loved Sonata in A major in the popular transcription for cello and piano, and Sonatas by Debussy and Poulenc.
Involving, as it does, three master musicians and a fine chamber orchestra this was never likely to be be other than rewarding. It may not correspond with the ways of playing Mozart at the beginning of the twenty-first century which are fashionable at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but it has virtues – such as high intelligence, sympathy, certainty of purpose, grace, alertness of interplay – which transcend questions of performance practice. Looking at the names of the pianists above, we might be surprised by the presence of Sir Georg Solti, so used are we to thinking of him as a conductor. But the young Solti appeared in public as a pianist from the age of twelve and went on to study piano in Budapest, with Dohnányi and Bartok.
Anyone interested in stunning violin artistry should buy this amazing disc straightaway. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. I hadn’t come across Tianwa Yang’s Sarasate series for Naxos before but I will certainly search out the other discs as a matter of some urgency. Her playing is simply extraordinary - no wonder she’s been described as “A Pride of China”. This isn’t one of those flashy, hollow, 20-notes-a-second recitals that quite frankly drive me to distraction.
The Poulenc Violin Sonata is still a relative rarity on record. I'm baffled by this, as it is one of Poulenc's most unique and musically rewarding works. This performance by Lin and Crossley is excellent; indeed they nearly match the superlative recording made by Kolja Blacher and Eric Le Sage for RCA. The brighter, more lively RCA recording adds a little extra sparkle and energy to the latter. However, in both instances, each violinist has the benefit of being joined by pianists who have made a specialty of Poulenc.
Recorded live at the Moscow Conservatory, this is a truly legendary performance. Any experienced veteran could be proud of it; that a boy of 12 should possess the necessary technique, the musical understanding and maturity, and the sustained concentration, is almost beyond belief. Reveling in his own limitless virtuosity, Kissin seems to be playing with as well as on the piano with elfin grace and delicacy; yet his command of the keyboard his warm, singing, powerful, varied tone are only tools for expressing his spontaneous response to the music.
With this two-disc set of the piano quartets, Nicholas Angelich proves conclusively that he is the best Brahms pianist of his generation. His previous Brahms recordings – a 2005 disc of the violin sonatas with Renaud Capuçon, a 2006 solo collection featuring the Paganini Variations, a 2007 solo collection of the late piano works, and a 2008 disc of the First Piano Concerto with Paavo Järvi leading the Frankfurt Radio Symphony – showed his skill in a variety of settings.