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The Strad Issue: April 2018  
Description: A daredevil double act from PatKop and Polina  
Musicians: Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) Polina Leschenko (piano)  
Works: POULENC Violin Sonata; DELIBES/DOHNÁNYI Waltz from Coppélia; BARTÓK Violin Sonata no.2; RAVEL Tzigane  
Catalogue Number: ALPHA 387

The booklet note for this release talks of Ravel deliberately provoking the folk-music purist Bartók by composing his Tzigane for the Hungarian’s favourite violinist, Jelly d’Arányi. But this whole disc might be seen as a provocation by a violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who is not exactly famous for her demure approach to music making. Tracing the links between French and Hungarian composers and musicians, this programme positively fizzes with exceptional violin playing and exploratory musicianship. Yes, there’s controversy – quartertones in Poulenc, anyone? And her daredevil attack on the Ravel, born of first-hand experience of the eastern European folk milieu that it evokes, often sacrifices tonal purity for sheer excitement.

Bartók’s Second Sonata, with pianist Polina Leschenko every bit Kopatchinskaja’s equal, also has a certain sense of freedom to it, almost in defiance of the composer’s infamously pernickety notation, but the result is a masterpiece of virtuosity and searching expressiveness. Meanwhile, in the Poulenc we are reminded of the sonata’s memorial to the poet Lorca and its revision in connection with the ill-fated Ginette Neveu in the duo’s interpretation of its dry humour and gutsy emotion.

The piano-only Dohnányi arrangement of the Coppélia waltz provides a welcome sorbet in among all this emotion. The whole disc is recorded with clarity and warmth.