Here are two great violin/piano sonatas performed by musicians in nearly ideal attunement to one another, playing two masterful Romantic sonatas for violin and piano . . . first-rate . . .
This is vintage, songful Perlman: each line in the Fauré and Strauss sonatas is beautifully drawn and meticulously judged and everything overlain with an attractive patina of age and experience. Ax imbues the romance and fire of these youthful works with genuine warmth and wisdom; it's as though these two veteran performers are taking a wistful look back over long and eventful careers, while still excited by the possibilities to come. A disc to treasure.
. . . [Perlman] has lost none of his peerless abilities as violinist and musician. He and Emanuel Ax make a splendid partnership, giving commanding, thrilling performances of these two sonatas. They catch the ardent spirit of Fauré's youthful masterpiece admirably, yet without neglecting its quieter moments of tenderness or mystery . . . [the varied colours and uninhibited approach of Ax and Perlman is] emphasised by the vivid definition and rich ambience of the new recording. In the outer movements one is swept along by Perlman and Ax's élan . . . Perlman and Ax impart greater energy and momentum to the quick movements, giving them a "Don Juan"-like sense of overwhelming life force. Yet there's subtlety, too, with Perlrnan adopting a moving, 'speaking' style in the Andante . . . while Ax finds an extra delicacy of touch for the filigree passages near the end . . .
Emanuel Ax brings a lovely rolling flow to the opening to the "Allegro molto" of Fauré's "Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1 in A, Op.13" before Itzhak Perlman joins bringing his fine bright singing tone. Here are equal partners bringing a lifetime of experience and musicianship to this music. Perlman develops some intensely rich textures, never missing a nuance, with some intensely poetic moments. There is a terrific fluency and freedom from both these players particularly in the later passages, building to a really passionate climax before the decisive end . . . What a partnership these two fine musicians make . . . This is a memorable release that should not be missed.
The Fauré, elegantly drawn despite its generally unwieldy structure, and the Strauss, with its innocent and enthusiastic lyricism set within a more traditional construction, are perfect prisms through which to see the infinite variety of colours and the quiet, understated experience of these two great players. Furthermore, that they are a hitherto unrecorded combination [is an added bonus for this disc] . . . But, most of all, these performances are bathed in the warm light of two performers of incomparable musical depth and worldliness. The performance of the Strauss is particularly skilful . . . [Perlman and Ax] bring out its almost vocal melodic lines with such maturity that its phrases and harmonic language make sense in a way that in many recordings sounds simply jarring and, at times, clumsy. In both performances, too, the sound production is particularly clean and luminous, steering so far clear of pushing the piano into the background as to create a balance between Perlman and Ax that is less soloist and accompanist and more balanced chamber duo. This minutely crafted performance will be one not only to value but to revisit.
. . . [Perlman] maintains his reputation for tonal beauty and passionate involvement in the music he champions . . . [Fauré / Violin Sonata no. 1]: Ax sets the tone immediately, "Allegro molto", with a fulsome statement of the main theme, itself redolent of lyric and sensuous power. Once Perlman enters, the sense of an elastic, ever-evolving thematic line suffers no break, no disruption in the fluency of expression . . . An irrepressible optimism suffuses the finale, Allegro quasi presto, in which Perlman's towering tone finds a perfect vehicle . . . Ax, too, presents us glistening scales and silken transitions between musical periods, his "responses" to Perlman's top line often colossal yet restrained in that quite ineffable Faure style . . . [in the Strauss Violin Sonata, Perlman] proffers some majestic beauty and meditation of his own, his trump card always the immaculate sweetness of his sound . . . a fine first recorded collaboration . . .
. . . [Fauré 1]: it's a youthful-sounding piece that wears its heart on its sleeve, something that Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax respond to with energy, excitement and no end of revelations. The four movements are each concise yet are packed with incident, ardour, beauty and agility. These performers' intensity and chummy rapport [offer a magnetic experience] . . . [R. Strauss / Violin Sonata]: its ink-still-wet quality and numerous poetic turns of phrase, not least in the central "Andante cantabile", make for responsive listening, especially in this big-hearted account from Perlman and Ax, who are also attuned to riding Strauss's stormy sensations.
. . . [in Fauré's Sonata no. 1, Perlman displays] impressive command of his instrument and a rich vein of lyricism . . . Both Perlman and Ax set the "Allegro vivo" fizzing, with Perlman wheedling in the middle section. Ax turns out to be a superlative colleague for Perlman in this sonata -- and for Perlman in general -- well attuned not only to the work itself but to his partner. Perlman's statement of the finale's theme sounds as pregnant with possibilities for stylish development as does any I've heard . . . [Perlman] would hold his own now with such violinists as Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern in individuality . . . [even in the slow movement of the Strauss sonata:] It's hard to imagine anyone not following his musical argument or even anyone not entirely convinced by the composer's effort not responding to Perlman's. Both violinist and pianist play with authority in the finale . . . it's ardently to be hoped that he will continue preserving his mature ideas. Meanwhile, urgently recommended.