Terry Robbins, The Wholenote Magazine / www.thewholenote.com

The Montreal-born violinist Frederic Bednarz is joined by his wife, pianist Natsuki
Hiratsuka, in a CD of Sonatas for violin and piano by Szymanowski and Shostakovich (Metis Islands Music MIM-0004 metisislands. com). Karol Szymanowski’s Sonata in D Minor, Op.9, is an early work from 1904; it’s a traditional late-Romantic piece with more than a passing reference to the Franck sonata, and is given a clear, thoughtful reading by both players.

The Shostakovich Sonata Op.134 is, by contrast, a late work, written in 1968 for David Oistrakh’s 60th birthday; as with so much late Shostakovich, it never seems to shake that all-pervasive sense of nervous apprehension, desolation and loss of hope. Again, the playing is sensitive and clear, with a particularly effective Largo, the third and final movement which is almost as long as the first two movements put together. There could perhaps be a bit bigger emotional range in places – maybe more of a raw edge at times – but these are beautifully balanced and satisfying performances. The CD was recorded in McGill University’s Music Multimedia Room in Montreal, where Bednarz is a member of the Molinari String Quartet, the quartet in residence at the Montreal Conservatory.