Country : Poland Label : Naxos Genres and styles : Romantic Year : 2023

Laurence Kayaleh / Bernadene Blaha – Noskowski / Zelenski : Violin Sonatas

· by Frédéric Cardin

Montreal violinist Laurence Kayaleh is no stranger to the lesser-known repertoire, thanks to several recordings on the Naxos label. We’ve heard her in sonatas by Medtner, Honegger, Raff, Catoire and Rebay, and this time she takes us even further into the shadows of the musical past with these two titles from Polish Romanticism. A rather ‘Germanophile’ Romanticism, that said, for both works betray an obvious debt to Beethoven and Brahms. 

The Sonata in A minor by Zygmunt Noskowski (1846-1909) has all the makings of a Beethovenian work, especially the Kreutzer Sonata. Its main asset is the lively themes and a melodic vigour that is frankly very pleasing. Wladislaw Zelenski offers us a Sonata in F major, Op. 30, also rather conservative for its time, and therefore Beethovenian, but with an expressive breadth that also looks towards Brahms. Once again, while the style is largely borrowed, the melodies and their development are drawn with strength and inspiration, offering music lovers a very fine discovery that has character and arouses definite interest.

Laurence Kayaleh and pianist Bernadene Blaha are to be applauded for daring to champion this kind of programme, which is conservative but full of assured quality. It’s hard to make comparisons when it comes to works that have almost never been played, let alone recorded, but it’s clear that these solid readings will remain benchmarks for a long time to come. 

An album that will give pleasure to all those who love quality romantic chamber music.

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