Franck & Shostakovich: Violin Sonatas

“The Khachatryans, brother and sister, make a formidable team. The recording is exceptional, too: finely balanced and with a wide dynamic range. The sound is so beautiful that one wondered, at moments during the Shostakovich, whether a harsher, more direct sonority might paint this dark work's bleak sound-picture more accurately, though it must be admitted that this duo is able to give the maximum intensity and force (as they clearly do in the ferocious second movement) while maintaining top tonal quality.

At all events, this Shostakovich performance is extremely impressive, the technical difficulties seemingly of no account, and the vast design of the final passacaglia compellingly sustained with playing that ranges from precise and delicate, through mysterious and poetic, to the highest degree of force and energy (in the two solo variations).

There's outstanding playing, too, in the Franck, especially in the first movement, where the tonal range of Sergey Khachatryan's lyrical phrases gives them a powerful emotional pull. However, the performance as a whole doesn't quite fulfil this initial promise. The second movement lacks the passionate drive that some bring to it: it's a mistake, too, to allow the dynamic level to drop at the appearance of the soaring second theme – Franck only marks a diminuendo some bars later.
In the following Recitativo-Fantasia, the composer again provides many clues; by virtually ignoring his poco accels and molto lentos the Khachatryans miss a crucial improvisatory element. It remains an enjoyable performance, however – very accomplished sonata-playing.” --Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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