The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: An enterprising collection of French violin repertoire
Musicians: Christophe Giovaninetti (violin) Izumiko Aoyagi (piano)
Composer: Debussy, Pierné, Fauré

This well-chosen programme of French pieces opens with Debussy’s rarely heard arrangement for violin and piano of ‘Minstrels’, played by former Ysaÿe Quartet and Elysée member Christophe Giovaninetti with a musical glint in his eye, a performance that captures the composer’s ‘nerveux et avec humour’ direction to perfection. So too Léon Roques’s popular transcription of La plus que lente, whose eartweaking sotto voce infl ections – at times Giovaninetti appears to be merely breathing on his instrument – contrast tellingly with the plush tonal upholstery of Itzhak Perlman and Michael Rabin (both EMI/Warner). The Sonata, in which Izumiko Aoyagi’s micro-sensitivity to tempo, nuance and balance really emerges as if from a dreamworld. Robert Orledge’s inspired completion of the Sérénade (based on just twelve bars of manuscript) turns out to be a real treasure.

If the Debussy pieces survive the scrutiny of closely placed microphones, the more eruptive moments of the glorious Fauré A major Sonata ideally require a more generous ambience for the sound to blossom forth naturally. This is also true of the unfathomably neglected Pierné Sonata op.36, which Giovaninetti and Aoyagi play with a soaring commitment and engaging perspicacity that will surely win it new friends.

Julian Haylock