The Strad Issue: January 2013
Description: Persuasive accounts of the Swiss composer’s violin masterpieces
Musicians: Elsa Grether (violin) Ferenc Vizi (piano)
Composer: Bloch, Pärt
Ernest Bloch’s Second Violin Sonata takes the listener on an exotic, dramatic musical journey. It is music well suited to the sensitivity of the young French violinist Elsa Grether, whose veiled tone perfectly captures the sheer beauty of Bloch’s concept. Intonation is impeccable in music that does not always lie readily under the fingers, and her bowing control creates passages that float on air. She is very well partnered by Ferenc Vizi – Bloch often gives the keyboard the basis around which the violin weaves its radiant colours.
I am not sure that Grether is quite so happy with the brutality and aggression that drives forward the opening of the First Violin Sonata, though on reaching the calm of the central movement she is highly persuasive in a musical language that encompasses French Impressionism.
Gerther’s honey-toned Nigun is enjoyable, too, but the problem for this disc comes with the existence of equally persuasive performances of the two sonatas from Miriam Kramer and Simon Over (Naxos). They have both a price advantage and a further 20 minutes of Bloch that includes his Suite hébraïque.
Though Grether’s account of Arvo Pärt’s Fratres is very restful, it makes a curious coupling.