Fauré - Works for Violin and Piano
Olivier Thouin; Francois Zeitouni
XXI XXI-CD2 1702
This fine disc’s two “pillars” are the early and late Fauré violin sonatas. Sonata No. 1 in A Major shows Fauré already at the height of his powers. This performance realizes the music’s striving, yearning sensibility. The passionate first movement features Fauré’s distinctive modal and chromatic harmony. Zeitouni controls the florid piano accompaniment well, bringing out motifs and subordinating lines, or underlining the violin’s melodic shaping. In the barcarole-like slow movement, sensitivity to harmony is displayed in violinist Thouin’s classic, subtly-coloured style. Both players meet the demands of the intricate, skittering scherzo, featuring fine staccato from Thouin’s bow.
The duo makes the most of the disc’s three lighter works. Berceuse in D Major is like a charming French mélodie. I find the Romance in B-flat Major too conventionally sentimental, but the forward-looking Andante in the B-flat Major’s melody in ascending fourths receives particularly interesting harmonizations.
The performers capture well the much different character of Sonata No. 2 in E minor: the first movement’s soaring lines seeming to ascend out of tumult towards light; the second movement’s tossing and turning; and the finale’s conflict and ambiguity resolving only at the final measure.
This disc may attract new listeners to Fauré, while aficionados will find it faithful to the composer’s style and spirit. The recording quality is excellent, capturing a full dynamic range in all registers, and Zeitouni's accompanying notes only reinforce the case being made for this great composer.