“French violinist Augustin Dumay is this year’s Chamberfest literal poster boy, his steely gaze and patrician forehead looming large all over the city […] on Friday Dumay performed sonatas by Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Beethoven with the distinguished Belgian pianist Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden.
[…] this was a masterful performance by two great artists at the summit of their technical and expressive powers.
Their playing agreed in refinement and insight, and each was elevated by the magnificent generosity of the other. Even their differences were complementary. Dumay, tall and lanky, plays with an almost ferocious intensity, throwing his whole body into his bowing. Vanden Eynden provides him with a poised, tranquil foundation, one carved out of a massive, rich, mahogany sound reminiscent of Egon Petri. It’s a mystery why we don’t hear this extraordinary pianist on this side of the Atlantic more often; he’d deserve his own solo recital at Chamberfest.
Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 3 received a sober, deeply sensitive and tender performance. The outer movements especially showcased Dumay’s buttery, smoky sound and Vanden Eyden’s expansive, breathing-room approach to phrasing.
With its odd, choppy, conversational feel, Debussy’s Impressionist G minor violin sonata demands the closest attention and hairtrigger reaction between the players. Dumay was all supple articulation and playful inventiveness, emphasizing the work’s modernity as well as its hothouse exoticism.
In Ravel’s Tzigane, he showed himself to be the thinking person’s virtuoso, playing with a keen intelligence and attention to Ravel’s astonishing writing that transcended mere showiness. Vanden Eynden was equally poetic and daring, achieving stunning hammered dulcimer effects in the repeated note passages.
Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 was given the full-blooded, old-school romantic treatment. Dumay’s uncanny ability to sound like a singer instead of a string player was particularly effective in the softly moonlit second movement.
For an encore, the duo gave a lush, unabashedly sentimental performance of the slow movement from Richard Strauss’ violin sonata. The audience was appreciative, but far from sold-out. It’s a pity so many people missed such a memorable recital. »
Ottawa Citizen, Natasha Gauthier, July 2015
This double CD presents three aspects of Augustin Dumay’s musical career: as soloist, conductor and chamber musician. The three works were recorded in three different places – Warsaw (Poland), Tokyo (Japan) and Paris (France) –, like a symbol of his international career.
There’s no whiff of stale routine, and Dumay’s customarily stylish, raptly intense showing, to say nothing of his subtly variegated tonal palette, will enthral his many admirers. Fritz Kreisler’s cadenzas are favoured – and imperiously the Frenchman delivers them, too. […]
Dumay also impresses with the baton in a live account (from September 2010 in Tokyo’s Suntory Hall) of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. The performance as a whole has creditable zest, punch and rhythmic acuity. […]
Brahms Sextet : Nothing is forced in a memorably intuitive rendering which is intensely appreciative of this heavenly score’s generosity of spirit, burnished glow and tumbling lyricism – perhaps nowhere more so than in the inspired theme and variations of the second movement (the delicate hush these players locate at 5’56″ takes the breath away). Spontaneity, joy and teamwork are the watchwords, as exemplified by the unfettered exuberance of the Scherzo’s bounding Trio section.
Onyx’s consistently superior production values, the handsome, cloth-bound presentation and excellent notes by Jeremy Nicholas bolster the appeal of this enticing package, whose two discs retail for the price of one.
Gramophone Magazine, Andrew Achenbach, June 2015
These performances are not about flashy violin playing or the sparring of an ego-clashing partnership: they are simply fine, considered accounts of three great violin sonatas that seem more impressive with each listen.Augustin Dumay’s opening to the G major Sonata Op 78 is rather slithery, with lots of portamento, but that turns out to be just the way he hears those first phrases, and typical of his willingness to focus every colour and inflection in his repertoire on articulating these works. Those colours are strikingly effective: from the almost viola-like richness with which Dumay invests the main theme of the finale of the A major Sonata Op 100, to the hushed intensity and the silvery half-tone that he brings to the slow movement of the D minor Op 108. And in Louis Lortie he has a partner who is both wonderfully attentive and full of imaginative ideas in his own right; it’s a disc to treasure.
The Guardian, Andrew Clements, Jan. 2014