Scottish violinist Michael Foyle and Estonian pianist Maksim Štšura have one of those perfectly meshing musical partnerships that is a joy to hear. Playing Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata and Franck’s Sonata in A from memory freed them up to focus on their interaction as a duo with such complete unanimity that you couldn’t help but be drawn in.

The start of the Beethoven was commanding but also thoughtful, balancing lyricism and truculence as it went on. Paradoxically, its revolutionary features emerged all the more potently for not being over-projected. In the second movement, Foyle conjured up birdsong in Variation 1 to rival Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ Sonata, Variation 2 was fresh and skippy, the minor-key No 3 thoughtful and introspective. The dancing energy he and Štšura brought to the finale summed up a performance that, contradictory as it sounds, wore its gravitas lightly.

Štšura’s warmth and clarity provided a sounding-board for the unexpected but delightful tone of whimsicality Foyle revealed in the Franck’s opening phrases. The performance gained in intensity as it proceeded, breaking out in a kind of exultant turbulence in the impassioned second movement. Moving without a break into the third enhanced its improvisational quality, with the two new themes that appear in the second half presented with understated eloquence. Their return in the finale had no unnecessary underlining, with Foyle and Štšura at one with Franck in the sonata’s irresistibly joyous summing-up.

I would have liked more of a break before the final group of Elgar pieces, but the same straightforward eloquence informed Chanson de Nuit, while Chanson de Matin and Salut d’Amour sounded delightfully fresh and buoyant – capricious, even.

© Mike Wheeler, 2017

  • Beethoven:​ Violin Sonata No 9 in A, Op 47 Kreutzer​
  • Franck:​ Violin Sonata in A​
  • Elgar:​ Chanson de Nuit et de Matin, Op 15​

‘…an assured rendition of César Franck’s enduringly popular Violin Sonata….Foyle and Štšura offered an unwaveringly engaging performance.’
Claire Seymour, Seen and Heard International, July 2016