- Sonata for violin & piano in A major, M. 8
- Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75
- Sonata for violin & piano No. 2 in G major
Elegant or edgy? That is the choice facing performers of these three quintessentially French violin sonatas. Each has a highly polished veneer that invites sweetness and restraint, yet passion also seethes beneath their surfaces. Sarah Chang and Lars Vogt provide plenty of elegance, to be sure. Chang's tone is silky smooth, and she dances nimbly through the trickiest passages with eyebrow-raising ease. But she's not afraid to dig in, either, when appropriate. The second movement of the Franck Sonata is breathlessly intense, for example, with Chang darkening her tone and Vogt pushing the tempo ever forward. There's an element of danger in the Ravel, too, especially in the brisk opening movement, which usually comes off as super cool; Chang and Vogt home in on the nervous rhythmic figures to create a feeling of anticipation. Even in the Saint-Säens, the duo turn up the heat, revealing an emotionally complex and musically ingenious piece that belies the composer's reputation as a master of the superficial and salon-ready. EMI's engineers effectively balance the two instruments, underlining the sense that this is a true partnership, and the sound is quite flattering to both violin and piano. Chang and Vogt might not seem like an ideal match on paper, but hearing is believing. Strongly recommended.