The violinist Jennifer Pike is no longer the child prodigy who, at the age of 12, won the 2002 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. That much is clear from the glamourised cover image on this CD of Czech music and, more importantly, from her music-making, which blends mature grace and youthful impetuousity.
That pays particular dividends in the CD’s most substantial work, Leoš Janáček’s Sonata, which transfers the speech rhythms of the composer’s operas to the violin, creating an unstable world of stutters, whispers and emotional outbursts, sometimes serene, sometimes violent. Pike is in tune with its mood swings, her intonation secure, her tone now husky, now piercingly direct. Pianist Tom Poster acts as a consoling voice, the interplay between the instruments taking on a conversational quality that suggests an intuitive collaboration.
There is less turbulence in Four Pieces by Josef Suk (Dvořák’s son-in-law), elegant and touching miniatures which Pike and Poster do not overplay. The same could be said for Dvořák’s four Romantic Pieces, so close to “light music” yet so full of feeling. As for Dvořák’s Nocturne, it is gorgeous and makes a delightful way to close this thoughtfully programmed and lovingly performed recital.