What happens to a BBC Young Musician of the Year winner nine years on? In Jennifer Pike’s case, she signs a contract with Chandos. The youngest-ever winner of the BBC award at 12, Pike has matured into a confident and expressive musician.
This program brings together three of the best-known violin sonatas by French composers (more or less; César Franck was Belgian). Throughout, Pike is alert to every nuance of light and shade. In Debussy’s offering she takes a cool, modern approach: exquisitely detailed, but eschewing old-fashioned portamenti in the yearning, falling phrases of the second movement.
Her Ravel is technically brilliant, the third movement’s Perpetuum mobile dashed off as though it were the easiest thing in the world. In the bluesy second movement, she does not dig deeply into the strings and sex it up in the manner of the sultry Maria Bachmann (Endeavour Classics/Allegro), but allows the movement to build naturally to a bracing conclusion.
Pike is most at home in Franck’s sonata, spinning a poised legato line in the first movement and finding plenty of heart for the climaxes of the Recitativo-Fantasia.
In all this she has the huge advantage of Martin Roscoe’s support. He is one of today’s leading exponents of French piano music. Also, the sound quality of the disc is pleasantly spacious.
Though perhaps not as individual as the recently reviewed young violinist Augustin Hadelich, Pike is still a winner.