Sarah Chang

Franck, Ravel, Saint-Saëns: Sonatas for Violin & Piano

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With Sarah Chang's celebrity as a child prodigy somewhat faded and her musicianship matured, she can forgo recording encore albums and at last get to work on some serious material. That she does, and quite brilliantly, on this EMI album of violin sonatas by Franck, Saint-Saëns, and Ravel. With the solid support of her accompanist Lars Vogt, Chang delves into these French masterpieces with confidence and intense feeling, and the two performers imbue the works with spontaneity, excitement, and lifelike presence. They open with Franck's Violin Sonata in A major, and its weight anchors the program. Chang gives a deeply felt performance, and her emotional range is expansive enough to suggest that she is ready for anything in this repertoire, including Beethoven. Saint-Saëns' Violin Sonata in D minor may be the tamest work on the disc, but it lets Chang display her control in the sustained lines of the Adagio and fantastic bowing in the dazzling finale. In Ravel's Violin Sonata, the differences between the violin and piano are exploited with dry wit and more than a little savagery. Chang and Vogt are excellent foils for each other in the sonata's persistent sniping, and their ferocious playing is on the mark.

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