Guido De Neve

De Boeck, Huybrechts, Wauters: Sonatas for Violin and Piano

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Pavane's De Boeck/Huybrechts/Wauters: Sonatas for Violin and Piano combines three Belgian violin sonatas that come from radically divergent artistic sensibilities and points in history. The Sonata for piano and violin by August de Boeck was composed in 1894 but lost until 1998; it is far better known as a sonata for cello and piano and in the latter version is sort of a standard concert piece in Belgium. It definitely betrays the influence of C├ęsar Franck and in particular the impact of Franck's Sonata in A minor, though in this piece the relationship between soloist and accompaniment is flip-flopped; the piano is the main voice throughout as in keyboard/violin works of the eighteenth century. It is rather odd to hear such a treatment in the context of a solidly post-romantic work; however, this newly discovered piece is satisfying on its own terms, and it is a little sunnier than the Franck.

The Sonata for violin and piano of 1925 of tragically short-lived Belgian modernist Albert Huybrechts is probably his best-known piece; it won the Coolidge Award in 1926 and has been recorded several times. It represents a fresh spin on Scriabin, but is more characteristically French in orientation -- Olivier Messiaen must have known it well, as its slow sections bear an uncanny resemblance to some of the slower music in the Quatuor de le fin du temps. It is hard to say which among the available recordings of this sonata should be considered "the best," but anyone interested in the early modern French school should know it. Christian-Adolphe Wauters is a contemporary composer, born in 1953, who for a long time was a music editor and critic at the Brussels-based newspaper The Standard. Wauters has stated that his violin sonata, nicknamed "Sonata Amara," decries the decline of interaction between people in an era crowded with multiplicities of electronic communication. The Sonata Amara's harmonic profile is bitter and tart, though not without a measure of lyricism, and rhythmically it is quite compelling.

Pavane's recording is strange; it is thin, sometimes sounds a bit out of phase, and most decidedly favors Jan Michiels' piano over Guido de Neve's violin. In the de Boeck work, that's not so bad, as it is after all a Sonata for piano and violin; however, the balance is less friendly to the other works. It's still listenable and the performances are good, while not spectacular, though perhaps that's partly the sound of the recording. The English translation of the Dutch language liner notes is not well done and is quite confusing.

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