Elizabeth Cooney impresses with her technical command and her shapely, passionate and considered playing. Phrases are neatly turned and she is not afraid to coarsen her tone to underline particular expression, especially in the Schumann sonata with which the CD begins. Her's is open and natural playing, confiding when needed, and expressively coloured to widen the range of the music.
The concentrated Schumann work is notably successful, poised in tempo and not unaware of the music’s ardour and vulnerability. Following is Robert’s beloved Clara for one of her Romances (somewhat difficult to decipher on the back cover’s gold letters on a white background!) – it’s a pleasing piece played here with intensity. Brahms’s A major sonata receives a considered performance, one of classical structuring and Romantic sensibility; contrasts are effectively brought out, and one senses a real rapport between violinist and pianist in what is, after all, a duo-sonata. Indeed, Daniel Hill brings virtuosity and consideration to his role, and Cooney continues to impress with her unaffected but deeply-felt playing. Wieniawski’s showpiece fantasy on Gounod’s “Faust” is, as music, something of a haul over its (here) 17-minute length; but there’s no doubting the dedication these artists bring to a genre that has somewhat disappeared from view these days; this confection is effective in its way and Cooney and Hill make a strong case for this melodramatic potpourri.
This is a fine calling-card, and sometimes more than that, for these musicians, both of whom one wants to hear more of. Good on Tzar Records for issuing this CD; the recording itself is well-balanced if a little restricted and anyone interested in upcoming musicians shouldn’t hesitate.