Beethoven: Violin Sonata in F, Op. 24 (Spring); Violin Sonata in A, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
WORKS: Violin Sonata in F, Op. 24 (Spring); Violin Sonata in A, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
PERFORMER: Yehudi Menuhin (violin)Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 459 356-2 Reissue (1970)
Menuhin and Kempff’s 1970 recordings of Beethoven’s Spring and Kreutzer sonatas are exceptionally elegant, fresh and immediate. Their approach does not have the richness of Perlman and Ashkenazy’s readings – Menuhin’s tone is tauter and less opulent than Perlman’s and the piano sound is more refined – but the air of delicacy is wholly effective, underlined by Kempff’s crisp articulation. The pace is on the reflective side, and the Allegro and Adagio of the Spring Sonata are a little lacking in colour, but Menuhin and Kempff reap rewards in the melting lightness of the scherzo, and the vivid, spirited Rondo. The Kreutzer Sonata is more consistent: the Presto is fiery and muscular, while the variations are eminently graceful. The scampering finale, though not taken at Perlman and Ashkenazy’s whirlwind pace, is eloquent and invigorating. What Menuhin and Kempff’s recordings may lack in dramatic intensity, they make up for in elegance and sheer charm. Catherine Nelson