Christian Ferras = BACH: Solo Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003; Solo Sonata No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1005; TARTINI: Violin Sonata in G Minor, Op. 10, No. 1 “Devil’s Trill”; MOZART: Violin Sonata in A Major, K. 526 – Christian Ferras, v./ Pierre Barbizet, p. – MeloClassic MC 2001, 73:09 [www.meloclassic.com] ****:
The illustrious but tragic violinist Christian Ferras (1933-1982) still finds admirers of his lush and vivacious playing. A student of Enescu, Ferras maintained a stringent discipline until the unraveling of his personal life due to substance abuse, alcoholism and eventual suicide. His 1721 Stradivarius “Le President” and his 1728 Stradivarius “Milanollo” conveyed his penetrating interpretations flawlessly. MeloClassics assembles concert recitals from Frankfurt, Germany, 1956-1960 which reveal the fluency and exalted taste that Ferras bore to the chalice of music.
Ferras begins (29 February 1956) with Bach’s A Minor Solo Sonata, a measured approach certainly in the Grave, but quite expressively abrasive when need be, at cadences. The line emerges slowly but without any sag in the tension. The ensuing Fuga enjoys perfect intonation and decisive clarity, especially when we consider the breadth of the arch he maintains. An exquisitely chiseled Andante leads to the Allegro finale, a heartily impulsive, even earthy, reading, music in constant motion but with a definite sense of architecture.
More of the Ferras sumptuous tone informs his dramatic version of the Bach Solo Sonata in C Major (3 February 1960), opening as it does with large, long-held, contrapuntal lines, Adagio. Besides the granite tempo and monumentality of line, Ferras communicates a decided intimacy into the score. Both plastic and poignant, the massive Fuga from Ferras testifies to his uncanny poise and rhythmic resilience while maneuvering his flexible bow arm. The following Largo plays for a mere third the length of the Fuga, but for time-suspended serenity it has few peers. The Allegro assai shows off Ferras in his capacity to infuse a true dance tempo and muscular ethos in the midst of strict counterpoint. A real tour de force, this movement alone would place Ferras among the Bach luminaries Szigeti, Szeryng, Menuhin, and Milstein.
For the remaining selections, Ferras has as his partner the French pianist Pierre Barbizet, whom he had met in 1949 at the International Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition, and who would accompany Ferras for twenty years. They perform Tartini’s G Minor “Devil’s Trill” Sonata (29 February 1956) in a suavely passionate, elegant fashion, fluently moving through its alternately plaintive and bravura, “inflamed” elements with a confidence born of long association.
The last of Mozart’s great violin sonatas, the A Major, K. 526 (1787), flows along with no hint of self-consciousness, raising our awareness of the performers’ grand consonance, legato and arioso, in the D Major Andante movement. The demands on the keyboard part become eminently clear in the concluding Presto, whose brilliant running figures and metric shifts match the fiery, stylistically alert Ferras at all points.
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