Notes and Editorial Reviews
Isabelle Faust plays Bartok like a wonder-struck explorer confronting new terrains. She wrestles triumphantly with the First Violin Sonata's knotty solo writing, reduces her tone to a whisper for the more mysterious passages, employs a wide range of tonal colours and trans forms the finale's opening bars into a fearless war dance. This is cerebral music with a heart of fire and will brook no interpretative compromises: you either take it on its own terms, or opt for something milder. In this performance each phrase, each gesture combines executive finesse with the sort of inner vitality that one normally associates only with so-called 'golden age' instrumentalists. Faust has won international prizes and competitions; she has toured Europe,
America, Japan and Israel; she has taken part in numerous music festivals and has partnered some of the world's finest string musicians in chamber music. Her collaborations have additionally included numerous concerts with Lord Menuhin and this CD also features a searching account of the unaccompanied Violin Sonata that Bartok wrote for Menuhin in 1944. Again, the performance is riveting and Faust harnesses her considerable virtuosity - not, I might add, to project a shining ego or an outsize personality, but to burn Bartok's inspired vision on to our musical consciousness.
– Gramophone [Awards 1997], reviewing the Solo Sonata and Sonata for Violin & Piano no 1
A welcome follow-up recording of Bartok by Gramophone's 1997 Young Artist of the Year with pianist Florent Boffard, here including the two Rhapsodies in pungent performances.
The most striking features of Isabelle Faust's Gramophone Award-winning first Bartok CD for Harmonia Mundi (3/97) were an empathetic spirit and a fiery temperament. Here, as there, Faust exhibits a defining use of nuance and inflection. The earlier CD featured the earthen First Sonata whereas this long-awaited successor is programmed around the tauter, folk-music-derived Second Sonata.
The Sonata's two contrasting movements call for a near-schizoid adaptability to changing moods. In the restless Molto moderato first movement Faust suggests feelings of sensual insinuation, though the lacerating attack of her bow at 350" has real grit. As the music grows more agitated, she follows suit and her pianist-partner Florent Boffard brooks no compromise in his handling of Bartok's dissonant chordal writing.
– Editor's Choice, Gramophone [9/2000], reviewing the Sonata for Violin & Piano no 2 and the Rhapsodies
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