The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Olivier Thouin (violin) François Zeitouni (piano)
Composer: Fauré

Canadian-born virtuoso Olivier Thouin, currently associate concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, possesses the ideal sound for Fauré’s endlessly supple, elegant writing. Even compared to such distinguished rivals in these timeless scores as Augustin Dumay (EMI) and Isabelle Faust (Harmonia Mundi), Thouin’s relatively small-scale but seamlessly pure tone, inflected by a fine-honed vibrato, ensures that these cherishable scores retain their alluring transparency and Gallic ‘cool’.

The elusive melodic idiom of the late E minor Sonata can easily pall when set beside the radiant lyricism of its A major cousin, yet Thouin, superbly partnered throughout by François Zeitouni, almost convinces one it is the finer of the two works. His immaculate shaping of the central Andante captures to perfection the noble restraint that lies at the heart of Fauré’s expressive psyche. The A major Sonata is a relatively early work that can easily become emotionally overheated, but Thouin keeps the music flowing with graceful precision.

The three shorter pieces are also beautifully turned, the Berceuse as ripple-free as a mountain lake, the Romance tantalisingly understated, the Andante urbane and phrased with infinite subtlety. The liquid clarity of the engineering is a perfect match for the performances themselves.