Patricia Kopatchinskaja / Polina Leschenko


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The Russian virtuoso tradition has waned somewhat in recent decades, but on the evidence of this release by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and pianist Polina Leschenko, it may be experiencing a revival. The pair announce their intentions immediately in the Violin Sonata, FP 119 of Poulenc, written in 1942-1943 and revised in 1949. Granted, this is a Poulenc work with an unusual amount of technical flair, especially for his late period, and it's one in which he consciously avoided French melodicism. Nevertheless, in Kopatchinskaja and Leschenko's reading it sizzles and scratches. Sample the opening Allegro con fuoco for a representative slice of the whole program, which is unusually tightly focused. All the music is rooted in folk or vernacular sources without being nationalistic: it all uses those sources as basic vocabulary rather than as ethnic emblem. Kopatchinskaja and Leschenko are perhaps most at home in the Violin Sonata No. 2, Sz. 76, of Bartók, an edgy, thorny work of 1922 that nevertheless makes a perfect pairing with Ravel's crowd-pleasing Tzigane: the two works were both inspired by the same violinist, Jelly d'Aranyi, the grand-niece of Joseph Joachim. Dohnányi's arrangement of the Waltz from Délibes' Coppélia likewise plays nicely off the Poulenc. This is early 20th century music as David Oistrakh or Leopold Auer would have played it, and that's all to the good. Alpha's engineers contribute well-controlled studio sound.

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