An invitation to step inside this charmingly stylish salon

Vilmos Csikos: Voix Intimes

The Strad Issue: April 2024

Description: An invitation to step inside this charmingly stylish salon

Musicians: Vilmos Csikos (violin) Olivier Lechardeur (piano) Manon Lamaison (soprano)

Works: Vieuxtemps: Rarities for violin and piano

Catalogue number: NAXOS 8.579149

There is a lot of rare Vieuxtemps here, but then most Vieuxtemps is rare. This is all good fun, much of it, but not all, for showing off. The opening Souvenir d’amitié with its simple, natural flow, is a warm-up for the Duo brilliant en forme de fantasie sur des airs hongrois where the pyrotechnics really begin: Csikos and pianist Lechardeur tackle the virtuoso spectacle with élan.

The seven short works that make up Voix intimes are not for showing off, although they offer plenty of technical challenges, being salon pieces with a tendency to develop into high drama along the way. In one of the longest, ‘Douleurs’, the violinist shows an essential simplicity below its multiple embellishments and curlicues. ‘Deception’ seems an aptly unsettling tale, with ominous semiquavers nagging at its heart.

The Variations on a Theme from Beethoven’s Romance no.1 are pleasingly inventive caprices. The Elegie – originally for viola – possesses not only passionate melody, with lots of ornamental passagework, but also left-hand passagework in the keyboard part. If you’re listening to the album in a single sitting the Marche funèbre might seem a little samey. But the concluding Fantasie for voice, violin and orchestra (here for piano) has delightful duetting between Csikos and soprano Manon Lamaison. The recording is clear and close.