Catherine Manoukian

Concert Reviews

Strauss and Franck: Violin Sonatas

E flat major is so strongly associated in the German musical psyche with massive, heroic statements - Beethoven's Eroica Symphony and Emperor Piano Concerto and R Strauss's Ein Heldenleben spring to mind in this respect - that the general tendency when performing Strauss's E flat Violin Sonata is to emphasise its swashbuckling qualities...

Not violinist Catherine Manooukian, however, who 'sings' Strauss's exultant phrases with a seamless cantabile which constantly reminds one that Strauss was one of the finest composers for the voice. In the finale's secondary material she exchanges rapier-like thrust of the traditional readings for a cushioned sonority of beguiling sensuality. Pianist Xiayin Wang also works miracles in bringing a luminiscent glow to Strauss's virtuosic textures.

If anything, their Franck is finer still. The opening movement's super-heated phrases are temporally and tonally micro-inflected with radiant suppleness, and they bring a melt-in-the-mouth quality to the finale's melodic tendresse that is unforgettable. Bravo!

by Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine

updated: 5 years ago