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

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Decca Legends
WORKS: Violin Sonata in F, Op. 24 (Spring); Violin Sonata in A, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
PERFORMER: Itzhak Perlman (violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 458 618-2 ADD Reissue (1973, 1974)
Itzhak Perlman’s and Vladimir Ashkenazy’s 1970s recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas have achieved classic status, and particularly their eloquent reading of the Kreutzer Sonata, Op 47. Decca’s decision to package that performance with the other named sonata, the “Spring”, in this re-release, part of the new “Legends” series that comes complete with deliberately dated looking covers proclaiming 96 kHz 24-bit Super Digital Transfers (!) is a logical one in both marketing and musical terms. Ashkenazy and Perlman were in their prime at the time, and palpably inspire each other at every turn of this wonderful music.

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Josef Suk and Jan Panenka, who recorded all ten sonatas over the course of little more than a year in the previous decade (October 1966 to November 1967), play in a dryer, more revealing accoustic than Perlman and Ashkenazy. But their playing is equally full of balanced insights. Suk reveals a sturdy tone, full of colour and nuance, and again Panenka, occasionally slightly subdued in the balance (though never enough to lose detail), is very much the equal partner. Stephen Pettitt