This disc introduces an impressive duo. Perhaps “introduces” is not the correct term for 25-year-old Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, already a star of the European festival circuit. Anne-Sophie Mutter chose her to play second fiddle (literally) in the Bach Double Concerto on a recent tour. Frang has also recorded Sibelius and Prokofiev concertos, but this is the first time we’ve heard her in a chamber setting and the result is compelling.
In the Grieg and Strauss sonatas, Frang is accompanied by another young virtuoso. Lifits was born in Uzbekistan in 1982, and won the Busoni International Piano Competition in 2009. As a team they achieve real symbiosis: listen to the way they press forward and pull back in the 3/4 movement of the Grieg sonata, sharpening each nuance and finding the precise textural weight in perfect sync.
Their program is attractive and far from hackneyed. Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata is his chamber masterpiece, but I had not heard the youthful First. These artists reveal it to be the exuberant outpouring of an inspired and vigorous young composer.
Frang and Lifits also find warmth and tenderness in the young Strauss’s Sonata. In between, Frang gives a strong, detailed rendition of Bartók’s “unplayable” solo sonata.