BBC Music Magazine

Suite Italienne


Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor; Stravinsky: Suite Italienne; Mario Castelnuov­o-tedesco: Ballade for

Violin and Piano, Op. 107;

Fantasias for Violin and Piano – Rosina; Figaro; Violetta

Francesca Dego (violin),

Francesca Leonardi (piano)

DG 481 7297 73:05 mins

Whiffs of Debussy and Scriabin, with a drizzling of decadence – the opening movement of Respighi’s 1917

Violin Sonata is quintessen­tially late-romantic in sensibilit­y. It can easily overheat, but the Italian violinist Francesca Dego keeps the temperatur­e finely poised between an interestin­g simmer and boilover. ★er supple, sappy tone suits the music, and she bows in lengthy, lissome phrases with exceptiona­lly sure intonation. The Andante sings with a sweet poignancy, and the concluding Passacagli­a’s 20 variations are knitted cohesively together, with enough expressive flexibilit­y to keep the results from seeming sternly academic.

Charm and elegance infuse Dego’s reading of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, based on his neo-classical ballet Pulcinella. The ‘Tarantella’ is spikily energetic without turning frantic, and the ‘Gavotta’ is pointed with grace and humour, with neatly scaled contributi­ons from pianist Francesca Leonardi.

Three of the four works by Castelnuov­o-tedesco are premiere recordings. The Ballade huffs and puffs rhetorical­ly. But the Fantasias – two on Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and one on Verdi’s La traviata – are delightful pieces, played with a winning blend of panache and technical assurance.

All told, this is a richly enjoyable recital, confirming the strong impression Dego made last year in her recording of concertos by Paganini and Wolf-ferrari. Terry Blain



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