Review by Beagle February 22, 2006 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
|To those here (both of you), who place Bartók in the same category as $200 Parisian dinners and Italian sportscars, I need say little, except order your copy and wait for the thrill to arrive. To those of you who don't, perhaps no amount of words will persuade you to experience this rare pleasure (but just in case, I'll add some notes in the discussion section).
I'm thrilled. Too often the awaited disc is 'only music', and the SACD 'only another performance, but with clearer soundstage'. This one was worth the bother of learning a new disc-purchase routine, and waiting four weeks. My only complaint: this should be a 3-disc set with MORE.
The Rasputinesque cover photo is more amusing than persuasive (see better photo of Follesø, and worse photo of another label artist, in discussion section). But it does get one's attention.
To paraphrase Voltaire, 'If there were no Bartók Sonata for Violin Solo, we would have to invent one'. This piece is right there, next to JSB's Six Sonatas for Cello Solo. It is Bartóks swan-song, his last completed work. I have it on a rather good Naxos RBCD, played by György Pauk, whose interpretation is excellent. I also have it on a Nigel Kennedy disc, where he does Ellington's 'Mainly Black' rather nicely -- but Nige fails to 'be hungarian' with the Bartók (too sweet a tone). Annar Follesø, a Norwegian, succeeds. Perhaps it's the common Magyar/Norse immersion in a folk fiddle-culture which allows Follesø to see with Bartók's eyes through the notes on the page to a musical space where everything is infinite and nothing is polished.
In the solo piece, the violin is emphatically present in an unbounded space. When the piano joins, in Sonata no. 2 for violin & piano, that space is filled by a Big Piano Sound. One might imagine oneself as Bartók at the Bösendorfer, with his buddy, Jelly Arányi (no relation to J.-R. Morton) fiddling nearby. When the clarinet joins in the third piece, the walls move out again. Although recorded in the same church venue, three different acoustic effects are created; very defined soundstage in all cases. (I'm taking a half-star off, for all of you who dread 'resonance').
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