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Franck, Grieg, Janacek: Violin Sonatas / Vadim Repin, Nikolai Lugansky

Release Date: 02/01/2011 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001517702  
Composer:  Leos JanácekEdvard GriegCésar Franck
Performer:  Vadim RepinNikolai Lugansky
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

JANÁ?EK Violin Sonata. GRIEG Violin Sonata No. 2. FRANCK Violin Sonata Vadim Repin (vn); Nikolai Lugansky (pn) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 8794 (63:39)

Vadim Repin suggests in the booklet’s notes that he and Nikolai Lugansky chose a program for their first studio recording together that mimics a recital—in this case, that would be a sonata recital. This sonata Read more recital begins with Leo? Janá?ek’s in a performance that sounds both lush and urgently communicative from the first note. Somewhat in the manner of Isaac Stern, Repin brings a large-scale personality to what he plays, and his way of gesturing in the first movement and his warmth (the notes suggest that the recording took place during sweltering weather; listeners may wonder how it might have sounded in midwinter) reveal, as do Stern’s performances, the composition’s genial side. Although in the notes Repin makes a great deal of the sonata’s “inner world,” he also reveals the extroverted aspects of its personality in the second movement. Only in the third do he and Lugansky begin to tear aggressively into the music. Finally, despite the fourth movement’s surly punctuation, the duo generally plays it reflectively and evinces a sensitivity belying its bleakness. The engineers have captured the magnificence of Repin’s 1743 “Bonjour” Guarneri del Gesù and Lugansky’s sensitive nuance.

The introductory passage, Lento doloroso , of Edvard Grieg’s Second Sonata displays in the duo’s performance a haunting poignancy that their energetic reading of the movement proper hardly dispels. Jascha Heifetz also recorded this sonata, rather than the more popular Third (RCA finally released a version of that sonata, with Emanuel Bay, which the Master had withheld) but his reading sounds driven. Repin and Lugansky rise to impassioned statement even before the end of the movement in climactic passages throughout. Their playful interplay in the second movement and in the opening of the finale recalls similar qualities in Fritz Kreisler and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s celebrated performance of the Third Sonata; Repin manages to scale his personality back a bit in the finale’s delicately sensitive interlude—nearly equaling Kreisler in Gemütlichkeit —before charging into the closing passages.

Repin describes César Franck’s sonata as the program’s centerpiece, although he positions it last. Be that as it may, the opening of the first movement alone reveals the extent to which the duo has gone to characterize Franck’s idiom. Beside this richly redolent reading, Isaac Stern’s with Alexander Zakin, which displays a similar intensity, sounds almost straightforward in both violin and piano parts. In the second movement, Repin enters with the eruptive force of Vesuvius, but although he maintains the flow of lava throughout the Allegro’s more explosive passages, he and Lugansky re-create the first movement’s meditative atmosphere in others. Although the Recitativo-Fantasia scales the heights, it’s perhaps most notable in this reading for introspection. And the canonic finale, leisurely at the beginning of this performance, eventually parts the clouds, revealing sunlit recollections of the Recitativo.

If the sonata recital as a genre has truly come and gone, this one by Repin and Lugansky shows that there’s still vitality left in it, as well as in its repertoire. Repin’s playing recalls the large personalities of violinists of the golden age, but his collaboration with Lugansky seems more productive; the older violinists often chose to play with what they might have taken as rather mere accompanists. Urgently recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Vadim Repin (Violin), Nikolai Lugansky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1921; Brno, Czech Republic 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 in G major, Op. 13 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Vadim Repin (Violin), Nikolai Lugansky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Norway 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Vadim Repin (Violin), Nikolai Lugansky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 

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