Alban Beikircher / Roy Howat

Gabriel Fauré: Complete Works for Violin & Piano

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While Complete Works for Violin & Piano is indeed an accurate title, more attention should be paid to Gabriel Fauré's two sonatas than to the minor pieces that fill out this disc. Violinist Alban Beikircher and pianist Roy Howat have probed Fauré's manuscripts and the Peters Urtext Edition to resolve several textual problems that have long made these pieces difficult to interpret. The Sonata No. 1 in A major, Op. 13, comes off quite convincingly as "young man's music," and Beikircher delivers it with confidence and lyrical exuberance, aided in no small part by a clearer knowledge of Fauré's intended tempos, phrasings, and simpler lines, played here without the later editor's unnecessary embellishments. Yet the Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 108, is where Beikircher and Howat find the most challenging music, and this performance shows not only their great attention to getting the details right, but also their deep involvement in the music, because they reveal its tenderness and passion as well as its refinement and craft. Fauré's manuscript again clears up many typographical anomalies, so this performance may be considered historically informed and faithful to the original. Since the sonatas are sufficiently rewarding to make this CD a valuable addition to any collection, the remaining pieces are just icing on the cake.

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