Augustin Dumay / Maria João Pires GRIEG Violin Sonatas

It is good to see Grieg doing so well out of his anniversary year, with all manner of rarities coming to the fore. While the three violin sonatas are certainly not in the ‘rare works’ category, having them on one CD gives the listener an admirable opportunity to survey the development of Grieg’s style, from the Romantic profligacy and energetic invention of the first, through the more consciously national second sonata, to the surprising intensity of the last. Every one of these nine movements has something to offer, but for sheer exhilaration try the finale of the F major Sonata. Dumay and Pires make a splendid duo, rising magnificently to the virtuoso challenges of the fast movements and responding well to the abundant lyricism in the slower passages. Apart from a slightly faint-hearted start to the finale of the C minor Sonata, these performances are near-ideal for their idiomatic grasp. The instrumental balance is realistic and the piano tone well captured. The only problem is a tendency on the part, I assume, of Dumay, to sniff impressively before certain entries. (Arkiv Music)

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