“Trace of Impressions” = DEBUSSY: Beau Soir; La fille aux cheveux de lin; Sonata for Violin and Piano; RAVEL = Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major; Volcalise – etude en forme de habenera; Sonata Posthume; Pavane for a Dead Princess – Anders Kjellberg Nilsson, violin/ Sveinung Bjjeland, piano – 2L multichannel 5.1 SACD 2L-098-SACD, 57:00
[8/1/13] [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
As globalization took hold in the mid-nineteenth-century European composers heard new sounds that influenced their music. This collection of music from 2L in Norway documents those influences, in an interesting collection of works by Debussy and Ravel.
We get Debussy’s Beau Soir, written when the composer was 21. The music is based on a poem of Sourget. At the time, Paris had become a focal point for international culture, and almost every month another international exhibition was taking place. French composers eagerly absorbed what for them was an onrush of new thoughts and sounds, and we hear these influences on this disc.
We also hear Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major. It’s filled with rhythms and dissonances, again acknowledging a changing world view, with echoes of jazz, blues and ragtime. It’s not the Ravel we usually think of, but it is riveting music.
Other works include Ravel’s Vocalise-etude en forme de habanera and his Sonata Posthume. Two more Debussy works follow, and the disc closes with the more well-known Ravel work, Pavane for a Dead Princess, written for solo piano originally when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris under Gabriel Fauré. Ravel also published an orchestrated version of the Pavane in 1910. Here the piece is arranged for piano and violin. Soloists for the works are Anders Kjeillbert Nilsson, violin, and Sveinung Bjelland, piano. The musicians are passionate and precise.
The recording is natural sounding, but I wish the disc would have been recorded in a smaller venue rather than what sounds like a cavernous church, which was the Sofienberg Church in Norway. The 2L engineers have used this location for other recordings for a more powerful effect. My taste would have been for less reverb and more definition from the instruments. The recording is certainly musical and technically sound, I simply would have preferred a more intimate location.
The theme that ties together all these works is a provocative one. Music can’t always be removed from the context of the time it was composed, and 2L has done an excellent job of collecting these impressionistic pieces we normally would not hear together. The music is very good. I was less enthusiastic about the location church for the recording, but many will find it to their taste.