The Strad Issue: April 2016
Description: Intelligent programming and ideal performances
Musicians: Noé Inui (violin) Mario Häring (piano)
Composer: Debussy; Janácek; Schulhoff; Szymanowski

This is a thoughtfully produced disc. The booklet notes, linking these early 20th-century compositions, create a useful conceptual context for these varied but complementary works, including a new discovery for me – the Violin Sonata (1927) of Erwin Schulhoff, a dark, driven work testifying poignantly to the troubled circumstances that surrounded its author’s life.

The performers are ideal advocates for this music. Noé Inui, recipient of the Prix d’Honneur at the 2012 Verbier Festival, shows a good deal of tonal versatility. Szymanowski’s music, which frames the programme, suits his style well, given the animated shaping of his phrases and the rich intensity of his full-bodied sound. The Tarantella makes a suitable conclusion to the disc, and the complexities of the opening op.9 Sonata set things off well after a somewhat cautious start (and some slightly challenging intonation in the first movement).

The Debussy Sonata, too, feels a little as though it takes a while to get going but benefits from an effervescent performance of the finale; and the impassioned Janácek Sonata (especially in the first two movements) is taken at a good pace. Häring, throughout, matches Inui’s intensity very well. The recording quality itself strikes a good balance between energy and warmth, and this disc is highly recommended.

David Milsom