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Franck's Violin Sonata has one of the most serene openings in the repertoire, and Hungarian duo Boglárka György and Brigitta Sveda made something magical of it in their Derby Cathedral lunchtime concert - Derby, UK, 21 June 2019. They established an easy but purposeful flow, which Sveda combined with hints of turbulence to come when the piano part came into the foreground. When the turbulence emerged more openly in the second movement, György and Sveda made sure that it added to the flow rather than impeding it, György's violin riding the surge with apparent ease, and making the withdrawn episode's arching phrases sing out.
That grasp of the long line continued into the rhapsodic third movement, with a renewed sense of calm in the pre-echoes of the last movement. The spontaneous applause after each of the two middle movements was well-earned. In the finale itself the players charted an ebb and flow of growing excitement, with no artificial overheating towards the end.
Franck wrote his sonata for one of the great violinists of his day, Eugène Ysaÿe. Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, more evidently a display piece, was composed for another, Pablo de Sarasate. György and Sveda found a plaintive quality in the opening, before launching into the rondo at a slightly steadier pace than I've often heard, but which worked, thanks to rhythmically crisp, incisive playing from both performers. György brought clarity to the more overtly virtuoso violin writing, while Sveda provided rock-solid, rhythmically incisive support, taking her turn with the rondo theme assertively. Their joint way with the racing coda was simply exhilarating.
Copyright © 5 July 2019