Annette Barbara Vogel and accompanist Ayako Tsuruta perform the works of French women composers on this understatedly elegant, classy album. They open with Farrenc's Sonata for violin and piano No. 2 in A major. The composer puts the listener right in the middle of the musical action, and the musicians jump in with full allegro enthusiasm. Vogel's sweet, clear violin is a bit tentative and light on the string at times, especially next to Tsuruta's assured, precise piano. However, these are minor criticisms as both artists play with a strong sense of musicality and spirit in a way that moves the listener. They bring such passion and energy to the rapid scherzo, a liquid legato to the adagio (where Vogel plays very much into the string), and a sparkling balance of the piano in the violin in the concluding finale, with its intertwining lines. Boulanger's Nocturne commences with a very delicate piano introduction, and once again Vogel bows a bit too lightly, needing a bit more contact with the string. This is indeed a valid criticism, as the listener can hear elsewhere on the album how she maintains more solid contact in her bow pressure, and even plays with great fire. Two works by Pauline Viardot-Garcia are featured on the album, and they showcase the talents of the artists. The sonatina is phrased beautifully by Vogel, rather like a Paganini violin caprice at times, and it is thoroughly enjoyable when its allegro gallops through the music. The next work, which is six pieces, explores a variety of moods. There is the Bizet's Carmen-esque Bohemienne, which is intense and passionate, contrasted with the lyrical Berceuse that ends on a whisper. The listener is treated to the Mazourke (mazurka), which shows off the pianist's gift for rubato in this Slavic movement, and also to the Vielle chanson, played with an honest simplicity using little vibrato, like a folk melody. Vogel has clearly made a number of stylistic choices that are very appropriate to each piece, which says a lot about her gift as a musician and her good taste. The album concludes with a playful, winding Tarentelle (tarantella) that dances its way through the music, and then skips off, leaving the listener pleasantly hanging. Pianist Tsuruta is a confident musician who most certainly asserts herself, but never at the expense of the violin. The two musicians collaborate beautifully together and bring these lesser-performed works into the spotlight.
AllMusic Review by V. Vasan
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