Tobias Feldmann / Boris Kusnezow

Polychrome: Prokofiev, Strauss, Ravel

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Polychrome, Tobias Feldmann's 2016 release on Alpha Classics, offers an engaging program of three contrasting sonatas for violin and piano by Maurice Ravel, Sergey Prokofiev, and Richard Strauss. While the choice of pieces reflects different trends in chamber music in the late Romantic and early modern eras, Feldmann's suggestion that their varied tone colors and moods create a palette of sonorities -- metaphorically describing Ravel's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, "Sonate Posthume" as "blue-green," Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 2 in D major, Op. 94A as "black and white," and Strauss' Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op. 18 as "flaming red" -- may give the listener a useful handle on the music. Feldmann's style of playing changes from one work to the next, and pianist Boris Kusnezow reflects the violinist's shifting moods and expressions in his nuanced accompaniment, so the delicate impressionist atmosphere of the Ravel is followed by the sardonic neoclassical wit of the Prokofiev, which is replaced in turn by the warm optimism of the Strauss, giving the program the feeling of progressing through an art gallery. It's possible to make too much of the visual analogies, but the curatorial efforts of Feldmann and Kusnezow give this CD a coherence that might not be apparent at first glance. Highly recommended.

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