Andrew Palmer, Group Editor

Classical Music: Le Temps Retrouvé

Le Temps retrouvé Bonis, Fauré and Hahn Violin Sonatas

Mel Bonis Violin Sonata in F sharp minor, Op.112; Fauré Violin Sonata No.2 in E minor; Reynaldo Hahn Violin Sonata in C major; Lili Boulanger Two Pieces for Violin and Piano: Nocturne.

Elena Urioste (violin), Tom Poster (piano)
Chandos CHAN20275

Elena Urioste and Tom Poster perform three sonatas, all published during the decade 1916–26, a musical period, which Urioste and Poster write, ‘to which we often find ourselves drawn, when the world and the artistic landscape were changing beyond recognition'.

The pair comment that Mel Bonis, whose life story reads like the plot of a Hollywood film, ‘wrote more than 300 pieces, and all those we have explored so far have been wonderful (she is our hot tip for the next composer due to a major renaissance). Her only violin sonata is a rhapsodic work with a Greek folk melody at its heart, and we were enraptured by the moment we encountered it.’

Urioste soars with exquisite prettiness as she phrases the lines so attractively, accompanied by Poster’s sympathetic and sensitive playing, both performing mesmerizingly. The final sees the duo highlight the vivacity of the piece with its lovely piano accompaniment. The way the pair capture its lightness shows their excellent dexterity and agility.

Fauré lamented to his wife that his Second Sonata, composed under the shadow of the First World War, had never achieved anything like the popularity of his First; ‘having fallen under the Second Sonata’s spell, we wanted to help to right this continuing imbalance.'

It’s performed with a delicate and alluring beauty that surrounds the listener, especially in the second movement as the duo criss-cross with each other. Urioste produces a charming sound throughout, and the connection between the duo is captivating.

Reynaldo Hahn is generally better known to singers than to instrumentalists, though his chamber music is as exquisite as his songs. Urioste and Poster write that his ‘Violin Sonata was the last work on this album to be composed, but where Fauré in his Sonata looks forward to modernist developments, Hahn (with the exception of his short middle movement, inspired by a fast car ride!) looks back nostalgically to a gentler time.’

The pair capture all the subtleties of the different movements perfectly; there is an element, as in all the pieces on this album, of wistful longing, captured brilliantly by the musicians who bring out the intensity with fine playing that has an intimate magnetic warmth to it. The disc ends with Boulanger’s short Nocturne, performed with tender elegance and sophistication.

An endearing and charismatic recording.