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Classical Source 4 out of 5 stars

January 31, 2024

Rob Pennock

This album features works by four female composers whose works are little known because of misogyny and while the Sonatas have occasionally been recorded, this is the first time they have appeared together. The title refers to the period surrounding and including the First World War and presumably to add a touch of authenticity, the piano is a magnificent 1913 Bechstein, which makes modern, made in China Steinways, sound bland.
Henriëtta Bosmansʼ four movement Cello Sonata (1919) is richly late-Romantic with a hint of Brahms and Franck. It opens with an angular first subject in the cello over massive piano chords, an elegiac Più mosso second, which leads to a tempestuous development section. The Un poco allegretto second and Adagio third movements are full of melancholy with alluring flecks of chromaticism, while the Slavonic dance-like finales triumphant coda returns to the works opening.

Dora Pejačevićʼs Sonata (1913), which is also in four movements, is similarly romantic, with a touch of impressionism. I don’t find its more discursive language as appealing as Bosman’s, but some might argue its greater length and complexity brings more variety of expression. Whichever is the case, this is a distinctive voice, with a rich melodic gift and it is tragic that both these works aren’t better known.
Lili Boulangerʼs exquisite Nocturne (1911) is an arrangement of her Pièce courte pour flûte et piano, as are the first two of her sister’s Trois pièces (1914). The third, Vite et nerveusement rythmé is a concise, virtuoso tour-de-force, quintessentially French take on Iberian dance forms. And again these works are shamefully neglected.
The performances are superb, with pitch perfect attack from Janne Fredens, who, without destroying the line, seems to speak as opposed to play the music and much can be said of her husband Søren Rastogi. The only criticism would be that the slow movement of the Pejačević is too fast.
OUR Recordings sent a DXD file, which the album was recorded in, which captures the generous, but not excessive, reverberation time of the Musikhuset, Aarhus. The overall and internal balance are perfect, the instrumental timbres beautifully recreated and the performers are there in front of you. The CD quality stream is also excellent, but when compared to the DXD, sounds rather flabby. Rob Pennock, January 2024

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