La Scena Musicale / www.scena.org

Violinist Frédéric Bednarz has been a ubiquitous presence in Montreal’s chamber music community for many years. Now a member of the Molinari String Quartet, he has also begun of late to turn his attention to the violin and piano duo repertoire, aided and abetted by Natsuki Hiratsuka, a pianist of great skill and sensitivity. Together, they offer up mesmerizing performances of Dmitri Shostakovich’s great violin sonata, and the less well-known, but fascinating and beautiful late-romantic sonata by Karol Szymanowski.

Bednarz has a warm, round, almost sweet sound, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty. There are moments in the Shostakovich that are absolutely searing, all the more so because of the strength and intensity of Hiratsuka’s pianism, and the duo’s lockstep ensemble playing. The less familiar Op. 9 sonata by Szymanowski makes for a very pleasing pairing, with its late-romantic language evocative of Franck and to some extent, the impressionists – it is a work that simultaneously looks forward and backwards, inviting a certain amount of levity that very effectively balances out the tortured intensity of the Shostakovich. This is a disc worth having. PP

SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO