The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: A rewarding trip to the Catalan salon
Musicians: Kalina Macuta (violin) Daniel Blanch (piano)
Composer: ToldrÁ , MossiÁ , Mompou, Gray, Blancafort, Cassadó, Granados, etc

These two discs, together with their excellent accompanying booklet, provide a short résumé of the wealth of music for violin and piano from the Catalan region of Spain over the hundred years beginning in the mid-19th century. From the well-known names of Granados, Mompou and Blancaforte to the lesser-known Josep Barberà and Jaume Pahissa, we pass through 35 pleasing miniatures from 28 composers. Essentially salon repertoire originally sold as sheet music to talented amateurs, the pieces offer melodies, such as Gaspar Cassadó’s Serenata, that some will recall playing as children in yesteryear’s family musical evenings.

There are more obvious technical challenges for the Polish-born violinist Kalina Macuta in Benetó’s mercurial Babillage and Cassadó’s little showpiece Dansa del diable vert. Elsewhere her fast vibrato proves ideal for the long lyric passages, but I would have liked far more and varied colours, a much greater dynamic range and an interpretative freedom in those works where thematic material is often repeated. The piano frequently has the more difficult role, and Macuta has a highly responsive partner in the Spaniard Daniel Blanch. The recording achieves an ideal balance, though it brings an acidic edge to the violin’s upper reaches.