Bax's second violin sonata is one of the most nuanced, subtly inflected duos ever written, requiring everything from gutsy, sweeping gestures to ethereal harmonics, all couched in a richly chromatic idiom that pushed tonality in new directions. Those who know Bax's "November Woods" will recognize the close kinship of this sonata with the seminal orchestral work. Jackson has the measure of this music and plays it all with a stunning tonal palette, ably matched by Wass. Reproduced on a good system and with proper volume levels, there is nothing reticent in this bold performance.
By the time Bax began composing his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in 1937, he had written six symphonies and numerous works for combinations of solo instruments and orchestra, only two of which, the Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra and the Cello Concerto, are actual concertos. (The pieces for piano and orchestra are more akin to Bax's tone poems than to genuine concertos.) Bax began the concerto in June 1937, finishing the short score in October. The piece was completed …….John Palmer @ Allmusic
Sergey Prokofiev's output for violin and piano was quite small, and it would have been limited to the Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor had he not also arranged his Five Songs Without Words and the Flute Sonata in D major, the latter at the request of David Oistrakh. One experiences a degree of discomfort in the Violin Sonata No. 1, which is one of Prokofiev's more unsettling pieces, due in part to its sinister tone and harsh dissonances, but also to its conflicting expressions.
Ornate, opulent, majestic: Handel's music truly exemplifies the Baroque in its elaborate monumentality, which many listeners associate with his vast, dramatic oratorios. Perhaps lesser known, but hardly less significant is Handel's chamber music, which reveals a different kind of artistry, an intimately refined facet of the Baroque spirit. The contrast between the monumental and the intimate in Handel's music is especially interesting since he cultivated chamber music throughout his career, composing works that reflected the development of his style from its Italianate beginnings to the ultimate richness of his late idiom.
In the 41 - year gap between these two sonatas Fauré, increasingly beset by deafness, withdrew into a more private, recondite world all his own. The Second, in consequence, has never enjoyed the popularity of the First—and in fact was conspicuous by its absence from the CD catalogue until this welcome new release. Collectors may recall that when Lydia Mordkovitch and Gerhard Oppitz recorded the First for Chandos they preferred to couple it with Richard Strauss's early Sonata in E flat. Comparison of the two teams in the A major Sonata, Op. 13, leaves me in no doubt that the newcomers would be my first choice. In saying that, I don't want to underestimate Mordkovitch. But with her fine-spun, silken tone and sensitively tapered phrasing she is far too often overpowered by Oppitz, who in the resonant acoustic of St Luke's Church, Chelsea, emerges not only too loud but also rather too often the victim of his own over-generously used right pedal. The Cologne venue accorded to Mintz and Bronfman is kinder: though anything but timid Bronfman preserves far greater textural clarity, and never allows his piano to outweigh Mintz's violin unless at the composer's own behest.(Gramophone, 1/1988)