The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Tasmin Little (violin) John Lenehan (piano)
Composer: Kreisler, Bach, Mozart, Grieg, Tchaikovsky & Bartók
Last year Tasmin Little’s website offered a free download of her recital The Naked Violin, with the objective of reaching out to those who hardly ever listen to classical music. The number of people taking up the offer proved a major success, and she won an award for the enterprise.
This new release follows directly on from that idea, offering an introduction to the growth of the violin and keyboard as a duo, her journey beginning with Fritz Kreisler counterfeiting an early 18th-century Praeludium and Allegro and ending in the 20th century with Bartók’s Six Romanian Folk Dances.
It is not a disc that promotes period-informed performance: Little and Lenehan simply enjoy Bach’s E major Sonata (BWV1016) with a fluid approach to rhythm and a nice warming vibrato that proves equally relevant to Tchaikovsky’s Mélody from the Souvenir d’un lieu cher, here played with refined delicacy and subtle colours.
In between there is much to welcome in an unaffected reading of Mozart’s C major Violin Sonata K296, where the outer movements abounding in happiness, and I much enjoyed the players’ ardent account of Grieg’s Second Violin Sonata, where bold outer movements frame a lilting approach to the central Allegretto tranquillo.
The pungent finale of Bartók’s country dances is taken at an excitingly breakneck speed, but elsewhere I felt a lack of the spontaneous gypsy freedom the composer envisaged. The engineers present a well balanced and very pleasing sound.