Mathieu, V.: Cortège

Album cover art for upc 896931006057
Label: Navona
Catalog: NV6305

Arakawa, Jasmin; Mathieu, Véronique

Violinist Véronique Mathieu and pianist Jasmin Arakawa present Navona Records’ CORTÈGE. The name cortège, or “solemn procession,” covers a vast expanse of meaning — while it most often describes a funeral procession, the term also refers to a joyful wedding procession, or a group that follows a person of importance in their honor. Mathieu and Arakawa balance the solemn and the celebratory in this sensitive, dynamic performance. Exploring the works of four French composers — Claude Debussy, Lili Boulanger, Nicolas Bacri, Francis Poulenc — the album is emotional, refined, and triumphant all at the same time. The album begins with a trip back to 1917 with Claude Debussy’s Sonata for violin and piano in G minor. Written when the composer was suffering from terminal cancer, a year before his death, he wrote to a friend that “this sonata will be interesting from a documentary point of view and as an example of what may be produced by a sick man in time of war.” Mathieu and Arakawa handle this introspective work with technical precision and grace. The moving album finds its title track in composer Lili Boulanger’s 3 Pieces for violin and piano. The second movement, Cortège, presents the other side of the word’s meaning — it depicts a victorious procession through sweeping gestures, a brisk tempo, and a bright, sunny energy. Mathieu and Arakawa pay homage to the young composer, whose life was cut short by illness, and demonstrate the triumph that can be created even in a grave situation. The Bacri Sonata breve for solo violin, op. 45 and Poulenc Sonata for violin and piano, FP 119 wrap up the album with passion and a demonstration of the duo’s virtuosity and compatibility as a musical unit.

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