Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Auvidis Valois
WORKS: Violin Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Régis Pasquier (violin) Jean-Claude Pennetier (piano)
Beethoven wrote nine of his ten sonatas for violin and piano between 1798 and 1803. As these accomplished performances by Régis Pasquier and Jean-Claude Pennetier show, those five years were a period of transition, in which Beethoven worked to develop from an inherited Classicism a style that could encompass his own artistic vision. The violin sonata, as a form, belonged to Mozart, who had given the instruments an equal status, and his influence is stamped on these works, especially the three Op. 12 sonatas (dedicated to Salieri) – they are unusually light, even playful – and, of course, the Spring Sonata (Op. 24), one of Beethoven’s happiest pieces. It is here that Pasquier and Pennetier are most convincing. Theirs is not a weighty sound, and the combination of the violin’s light timbre and the fluid piano-playing emphasises the delight and apparent spontaneity of these airy and lyrical works.


In the three Op. 30 sonatas, we can hear Beethoven’s writing and textures becoming more densely developed, to culminate in the vast Kreutzer Sonata (Op. 47), ambitiously conceived ‘quasi come d’un Concerto’ – almost like a concerto – written at about the same time as the Eroica Symphony. Pasquier and Pennetier do not muster the same bite and passion as Perlman and Ashkenazy, for example, but that serves to remind us that his sonata is in many ways atypical. The tenth sonata, Op. 96, written nine years later in 1812, is again sweetly intimate, and there Beethoven abandoned the form, focusing (in his chamber works) on the piano sonata and the string quartet, as if this was the way he could leave Mozart behind.