Arthur Honegger: Complete Violin Sonatas

Laurence Kayaleh / Paul Stewart

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Arthur Honegger: Complete Violin Sonatas Review

by James Manheim

It may be a part of the business model of Hong Kong's Naxos label to record a lot of chamber music, which has a smaller payroll than a symphonic performance. Whatever the case, the results are plainly beneficial in cases like these works by Arthur Honegger, the most Germanic member of France's Les Six, who is otherwise known mostly for his choral works and for the orchestral train piece Pacific 231. Except for the first, unnumbered sonata, a student work, the works on this album were clearly highly valued by the composer; he premiered the Sonata No. 2 H. 24, himself in 1919, and the two numbered sonatas are both good examples of his dense style, which seems to lie halfway between Strauss and Debussy. The most extraordinary work here is the Sonata for solo violin in D minor, H. 143, composed in 1940 and clearly a response to the outbreak of war. It is a fusion of Honegger's own language with that of Bach's unaccompanied sonatas for solo violin, and it demands considerable traction from the soloist. Laurence Kayaleh, a young violinist who teaches at the University of Montreal, has specialized in national chamber works of the first half of the 20th century, and she does Honegger proud, with unflagging long lines and a beautiful tone on her 1742 Guarneri instrument. Recommended for those who have heard the big Honegger hits and may have been curious about other music by this composer.

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