September 2006    
2L 34

Strauss Violin Sonata in E flat major, op. 18
Enescu Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25, Dans le caractère populaire roumain
Kolbjørn Holthe (violin), Tor Espen Aspaas (klaver)

2L 34 (56 minutter) 1 2 3 4 5 6

I had forgotten, until I put this CD on, what a good work the Richard Strauss Violin Sonata is: one almost never hears it in concert, and its appearances on CD are similarly few and far between. So when it gets a recording as good as that which Kolbjørn Holthe and Tor Espen Aspaas deliver here, it’s worth sitting up and paying attention. Strauss was always a striver – a Dionysian, not an Apollonian, in Nietzsche’s famous distinction – in the Beethovenian mode, although he stopped well short of Beethoven’s achievement, of course. Holthe and Aspaas make it clear that, although he did overstretch himself (or, indeed, sell himself short), he could manage a genuinely heroic tone – rather a pity that this master of the orchestra never sat down to turn his sonata into a concerto.

Enescu’s utterly individual Third Violin Sonata (1926) is a remarkable distillation of the spirit of the Romanian folk-music that surrounded him as he grew up and which he carried with him in his soul ever after. The score bristles with detailed instructions to the players, in a paradoxical attempt to recapture the spontaneity of the Romanian folk-fiddler – but Holthe and Aspaas bring it off convincingly: you can hear how Holthe takes his bow to the strings differently between the Strauss and the Enescu; Aspaas, in the same spirit of freedom, might be playing a huge cimbalom. And this being a 2L recording, the sound is open and natural.

Martin Anderson

Klassisk Musikkmagasin