Sonatas for two violins

Sonatas for two violins
Johannes Pramsohler, Roldán Bernabé
Audax ADX13714. 63’04

Louis-Gabriel GUILLEMAIN Sonata in d minor, Op4.2
Jean-Marie LECLAIR Sonata in B flat, Op12.6
Jean-Pierre GUIGNON Les Sauvages, Tendrement, La Fustemberg Op8
Nouvelles variations des Folies d’Espagne Op9
Étienne MANGEAN (c1710-c1756 Sonata in g minor, Op3.6

Johannes Pramsohler and the Audax record company are a busy lot, issuing a steady stream of recordings, all of which are gems. Here is another one, this time with 18th-century music for two violins. These are true duets, with no bass line or other instrumental involvement. A rather unusual repertoire but well worth recording and hearing. Playing on violins dating from 1713 and 1748, Johannes Pramsohler and Roldán Bernabé achieve a remarkable cohesion of tone and of playing. It is sometimes difficult to believe there are two people playing, such is the balance between them.

There are a couple of premier recordings, Guignon’s Les sauvages et La Furstemberg and Etienne Mangean’s Sonata in g minor. The first three of the four composers all had the same teacher in Turin, the virtuoso violinist Giovanni Battista Somis. Many of the pieces are intended for and dedicated to the pupils of the composers, who also appealed to the obviously talented amateur market. Most are technically demanded, although you wouldn’t notice it from the assured playing of Pramsohler and Bernabé.

The recorded acoustic is attractive, retaining a chamber quality but with an appropriate bloom to the sound.