Montreal violinist Anne Robert's reissued duo forays worth exploring -- if you can find the CDs
One of the strange distortions that comes with creating stars in the performance world is that casual observes then overlook the fantastic -- and inevitably bountiful -- talents in their midst.
Toronto has dozens of musicians who are much loved locally, unknown beyond the city limits, yet who are, to use an overworn adjective, world-class. The same is true in any city.
Montreal violinist Anne Robert is one of those people. For people not on that island, she has about four-dozen albums to her credit -- except that they're not necessarily easier to find outside Quebec than is Robert herself.
Montreal label XXI Productions (which has a totally useless website and spotty distribution) has reissued two fairly recent albums by Robert, both of which nicely show off her signature blend of iron bow control leavened by sensitive musicality -- in particular a very graceful and dynamically exciting sense of phrasing.
The oldest of the reissues -- recorded in Paris, in 1994 -- pairs Robert with Swiss pianist Sylviane Deferne in three Violin Sonatas: by Gabriel Pierné, César Franck and Charles Tournemire.
The other disc collects a dozen short pieces for organ and piano, recorded in Montreal in 2009 with organist Jacques Boucher at his church, Saint-Jean-Baptiste. It's a fantastic survey of French music from the mid-19th century to the end of the 20th (the final piece, "Kaléidoscope," is by Antoine Reboulot, who died in 2002. Robert and Boucher premiered the piece in Paris in 2008.)
Fortunately, Quebec music retailer Archambault has audio samples on its site, to give an idea of what the newer album sounds like.
Here is the only YouTube clip of Anne Robert I could find, playing Mendelssohn's Op. 49, No. 1, D-minor Piano Trio, with her Trio Hochelaga colleagues, pianist Stéphane Lemelin and cellist Paul Marleyn: