Edward Bhesania, The Strad / thestrad.com

Young Montreal-born violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka make a strong impression in contrasting the late-Romantic style of early Szymanowski with the dark, sparse territory of late Shostakovich. Comparing the disc’s first and last tracks emphasizes the contrast. Szymanowski’s Allegro moderato has Romantic grandeur, which Bednarz conveys with flair..

In  Shostakovich’s slow, searching passacaglia, Bednarz maintains a sense of gravitas as well as enigma. Together with Hiratsuka, he creates a powerful atmosphere around the often arid soundscape. The second movement is a devil’s dance, here relatively unsneering but still effective, and technically assured.

Bednarz brings a gorgeous tone to Szymanowski’s lyrical slow movement, the high-lying writing drawing sustained sweetness. In this movement and the next, Hiratsuka’s neat handling of the often dense texture is key. The disc’s trayless digipack presentation means that there are scant notes on the works or artists, but the recording itself is clear yet spacious. A highly recommended release from an instinctive musical partnership.

SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO