The great violinist Itzhak Perlman www.itzhakperlman.com celebrates his 70th birthday this year. Amongst the many releases that will no doubt follow, including a magnificent 25 CD box set of his complete recordings for Deutsche Grammophon www.deutschegrammophon.com (DG 479 4708) comes a new recording with an equally legendary pianist Emanuel Ax http://emanuelax.com . This new recording of Violin Sonatas by Gabriel Fauré and Richard Strauss is Perlman’s first new solo recording in a decade.
Emanuel Ax brings a lovely rolling flow to the opening to the Allegro molto of Fauré’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in A, Op.13 before Itzhak Perlman joins bringing his fine bright singing tone. Here are equal partners bringing a lifetime of experience and musicianship to this music. Perlman develops some intensely rich textures, never missing a nuance, with some intensely poetic moments. There is a terrific fluency and freedom from both these players particularly in the later passages, building to a really passionate climax before the decisive end.
These two artists bring a lovely atmosphere to the dreamy Andante, both showing exquisite sensitivity in this natural, intuitive partnership. That Perlman and Ax have played together on stage so frequently is so evident here. They develop a fine undulating pulse before the music rises still retaining a lovely flow with some absolutely magical moments in the coda.
They bring such life to the Allegro vivo with playing of absolute precision, energy and panache with some superb high speed passages taken at quite a pace yet retaining superb detail.
There is a rolling flow to the Allegro quasi presto with some exquisite quieter, poetic moments where these two fine artists reveal a remarkable understanding. There are moments of great passion with a real feel for this music.
They weave the little melody in the Allegro ma non Troppo of Richard Strauss’ early romantic Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat, Op.18 very finely. When the allegro picks up, these two bring some fine intricate, faster passages. There are some very finely handled changes of mood from poetic, quieter moments to the more dynamic. Indeed, their control of dynamics is very fine, bringing sudden flurries of excitement within the flowing romantic passages before a beautifully turned coda.
Perlman brings his lovely tone to the gently flowing Improvisation: Andante cantabile intimately accompanied by Ax. This gives the feel of two friends talking together in a companionable way as they weave some lovely moments. When the tempo picks up a little, particularly in the piano part, they subtly ratchet up the emotion. Later the music falls to some lovely, rather playful, passages for piano over which Perlman holds a lovely line. Ax here is exquisite, a very lovely section that runs right to the coda.
They bring an intense brooding to the opening of the Finale: Andante – Allegro before quickly leaping into the allegro with some vibrant, razor sharp phrases. They move ahead through some lovely long, flowing passages with some lovely intricate little phrases before rising up and moving forward to the coda.
What a partnership these two fine musicians make. My download revealed a vivid recorded sound. This is a memorable release that should not be missed.