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Limelight Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine

September  2017

Charmian Gadd & Phillip Shovk: Beethoven, Brahms, Fauré

A reliable repertoire graces the new self-titled release from Charmian Gadd and Phillip Shovk. Recorded two years ago at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the album features three sonatas for violin and piano. All in major keys, the works offer a chance to carve out an hour-or-so and indulge in some fine 19th-century music.

Gadd’s timbre on violin is luscious with high frequencies in the opening Brahms Violin Sonata No 1 in G. Shovk burbles away with a neat brush of the keys, which satisfies the need for a fuller and warmer foundation of sound. In his notes, Shovk informs us this work is in the style of Beethoven – perhaps a reason he chose the master’s Sonata No 10 in G to complete the album. But sandwiched between these two legendary composers is Fauré: his Violin Sonata No 1 in A. A pivotal work in the chamber repertoire, Fauré’s music is composed and performed with affection (except during the rumbling momentum of the Allegro vivo).

The Beethoven eventually arrives with a frisky little trill, instruments echoing each other before joining in rhythmic unison. In this Allegro moderato, Gadd and Shovk bare their abilities to respond acutely to each other’s musical approaches. This is a pair of musicians meant to work together. The simple and sedate Adagio espressivo is the first hint that the end is near, but by the time we reach the structured Poco allegretto, I’m not sad to see this album off – agreeable as it is.

Stephanie Eslake