Two musical mavericks breathe fresh life into much-loved sonatas

Patricia Kopatchinskaja: Bartók, Brahms, Janáček


The Strad Issue: February 2023

Description: Two musical mavericks breathe fresh life into much-loved sonatas

Musicians: Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) Fazil Say (piano)

Works: Bartók: Violin Sonata no.1. Brahms: Violin Sonata no.3 in D minor op.108. Janáček: Violin Sonata

Catalogue number: ALPHA 885

The spontaneous nature of Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s playing would seem to work against the concept of recording. But her discs have always managed to capture her sense of exploration and immediate response to the music in front of her in one particular moment, even if a different day, a different recording session might have brought forth a completely different result. This latest release is no exception and sees her reunited with her original duo partner Fazil Say – her match in terms of unpredictability – in a trio of sonatas sandwiching a late 19th-century classic between two folk-inspired works from the early 1920s.

Janáček’s Violin Sonata suits Kopatchinskaja’s hyperactive playing style perfectly, while Bartók’s First Sonata gives her full rein to indulge in a characteristically percussive approach to attack and bowing, as well as sparing use of vibrato – the finale is a real tour de force, as one might expect. What is perhaps unexpected is the success of the Brahms, where there’s delicacy as well as power – she describes in the booklet her likening of the opening to keeping a feather afloat, and here she proves that she can sustain long phrases just as successfully as she can negotiate her way through more volatile music.