Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Op. 30/1, 2, 3

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, Op. 30/1, 2, 3
PERFORMER: Gidon Kremer (violin), Martha Argerich (piano)
Rarely, if ever, can Beethoven’s violin sonatas have been played more explosively and passionately than on this disc. One might have expected powerful and thought-provoking performances from such an intelligent, if idiosyncratic pair as Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich, but this disc surpasses all expectations. Beethoven’s Op. 30 sonatas, written in 1802, comprise two major key works surrounding a stormy minor one. Op. 30/1, in the relatively peaceful key of A major, is the most conventional of the three, but even here Kremer and Argerich’s lively imaginations never let you rest, the third movement variations leaving you marvelling at Argerich’s incredible left-hand marcato and Kremer’s astonishing staccato chords, neither spread nor arpeggiated. From the nervy beginning of the C minor Sonata (No. 2), the most substantial of the three, it’s obvious that something almost cataclysmic is happening – a performance of tension, mystery and drama of breathless proportion. And after this C minor ‘storm’, Op. 30/3 in G does little to relieve the tension; the excitement of tossed-off trills and accentuated cross-rhythms allows no basking. These performances, with their quality of wild abandon, rawness and pent-up energy, are remarkable. Annette Morreau