Leonidas Kavakos / Péter Nagy - Sonate posthume; Tzigane / Impressions d'enfance; Sonata No.3 (2003), 7/10

A collection of impressionist music that balances soothing beauty with frantic delirium. Violinist Kavakos’ playing is fluid or jagged in the right moments while Nagy balances the same with equal grace as pianist. The highlights in both dynamics and emotional effectiveness are the bookend pieces Sonate postume and Tzigane that stand out with their wide span of material and focused energy. Sonata No.3 has moments of refinement, but in majority lacks the poise of the other movements, even while this is a high bar to reach. Perhaps without this piece, or with a better interpretation of its score in certain moments, this recording could have been near flawless. The latter half of Op. 28 has a certain nefarious quality that interjects with a fine, sensual cutting of the beauty in its surrounding pieces and even within the movement itself, pulsating with simultaneous pressured incongruity and impressively fluid harmony. The second movement of the sonata drags its feet before a rapid but jagged third movement. This before a rapturous, elating closing piece that hosts an impressive breadth of sound and spirit. A beautiful piece of modern impressionist music that easily separates itself from contemporary recordings with its intense intimacy despite a wide range of motifs, and consistently outstanding finesse in performance. If nothing else, the recording is surprisingly accessible for an impressionist piece with such variety and contains such effortless style that it will be enjoyed by just about anyone.