The selection of works by Maurice Ravel and George Enescu on this 2003 disc brings to mind their common interest in using exotic folk material -- note the Romanian-styled themes in Enescu's Impressions d'enfance and the Sonata No. 3, and the gypsy elements in Ravel's Tzigane -- as well as their shared tendency toward strong coloristic effects and atmospheric harmonies. Yet Ravel's fledgling student work, the Sonate posthume, is out of place on the program. Clearly influenced by Gabriel Fauré and redolent of fin de siècle sweetness, it is not as challenging or innovative as the other pieces, and seems a peculiar choice for ECM's New Series -- unless its late publication in 1975 qualifies it for inclusion. That quibble aside, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Peter Nagy deliver a moody but elegant performance of this early composition, and play the Enescu works and Tzigane with abundant wit, energy, and fire. Kavakos may seem the most interesting member of the duo to follow, for his playing is quite intense and his parts more audibly virtuosic. But Nagy holds his own, and his solid, unshowy accompaniment gives Kavakos strong support and ample room for brilliance. ECM's sound quality is excellent.
Review by Blair Sanderson
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 3 in A minor ("dans le caractere populaire roumain"), Op. 25|