The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Nurit Stark (violin) Cédric Pescia (piano)
Composer: Busoni, Enescu

This is an interesting disc debut for an Israeli violinist and French–Swiss pianist who form a regular duo and play in the Esart Trio. They appear to have held two public recording sessions before quiet audiences; and I suspect editing of the (well-recorded) takes has been kept to a minimum.

The performance of Busoni’s beautiful sonata meets my criteria, and it proves highly satisfying. Both players establish a good atmosphere and chisel out the melodies well. Balance is excellent and they dare to play really softly when required. Above all, they do not take too long – their timing of 30:27 minutes is perfect and no tempo is forced or strange. Nurit Stark, a characterful violinist, is not afraid to make a slightly strident sound in the interests of drama. She loses her tuning a little in the final variation, but makes a lovely homecoming in the coda.

The Enescu is well performed by the standards of five or ten years ago. Sadly for Stark and Pescia, the bar has more recently been raised by Sherban Lupu (Electrecord) and Remus Azoitei (Hänssler) and their pianists. Stark is an Enescu Competition prizewinner but might have done better in the Second Sonata.

She and Pescia are a little casual at the start and rarely sound Romanian, although they play beautifully in the central movement and do many good things. Azoitei has superior tonal control and from him I hear birds, insects and other creatures, whereas from Stark I hear just a violin.