ARTEK RECORDINGS CD19: Elgar / Fauré Sonatas
All Music Guide
Has there ever been a coupling of the violin sonatas of Edward Elgar and Gabriel
Fauré before? If not, why not? They're a natural together: Elgar's reticently
ardent sonata is well matched by Fauré's fervently reserved sonata. While both
Elgar and Fauré are B-list nineteenth century composers, their sonatas together
are a compelling double portrait of Europe at the edge of a cultural abyss.
If there has never been a coupling of Elgar and Fauré's violin sonatas before, there is now in this one by Elmar Oliveira and Robert Koenig on Artek. And now that there is, there never needs to be one again because Oliveira and Koenig have done it. In their hands, the Elgar "Sonata" with rushing tempos and reckless rhythms sounds almost but not quite like music on the edge of an emotional breakdown. In their hands, the Fauré "Sonata" with its passionate phrasing and dramatic structures sounds almost but not quite like music on the edge of an emotional revelation. But in both works, Oliveira and Koenig kept control of themselves and the music, holding themselves back from histrionics and the music back from hysterics. The result is as fine a coupling of any two violin sonatas ever recorded. Artek's digital sound is just about but not quite as good as the major international labels.
- James Leonard