Franck, Lekeu: Violin Sonatas (lefevre)

Album cover art for upc 774204928223
Catalog: AN29282
Format: CD

Franck-Lekeu-Mathieu; David Lefèvre; Alain Lefèvre

Wholenote Discoveries - May 2009
While quite familiar with the career of Québec pianist Alain Lefèvre, I was not aware of his brother, violinist David Lefèvre, who has spent most of his career in Europe in the first chair at the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, and later the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, and as Guest concertmaster with the Lisbon Gulbenkian Orchestra. David returned to Montreal last summer, at least long enough to record a CD with brother Alain. The disc features the familiar (and always welcome) Sonata in A by César Franck, along with a lesser-known G Major Sonata by Franck’s Belgian protégé Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894) and the Ballade-Fantaisie by André Mathieu. Lekeu lived a tragically short life and composed his sonata at 22, just two years before his death. The work was commissioned by Eugene Ysaÿe and thanks to him it “traveled the world” and was picked up by some of the greatest violinists of the first half of the 20th century. The dramatic, if somewhat melancholy, work has not stayed in the repertoire however and so we come upon it here as something of a hidden treasure. I expect this fine performance will bring some well-deserved attention to the near-forgotten gem. Alain Lefèvre has been instrumental in reconstructing and promoting the works of Québec child prodigy André Mathieu (1929-1968) whose European career was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War. Written at the age of 13, the same year Mathieu won first prize in the New York Philharmonic’s centenary young composers’ competition, this charming, if somewhat anachronistic, lyric piece is a perfect Canadian companion for the sonatas of these earlier European masters. David Olds

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