Beethoven: Violin Sonata in A, Op. 47 (Kreutzer); Violin Sonata in G, Op. 96

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Violin Sonata in A, Op. 47 (Kreutzer); Violin Sonata in G, Op. 96
PERFORMER: Gidon Kremer (violin)Martha Argerich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 447 054-2 DDD
For unprepared listeners, the Argerich/Kremer duo should come with a blood pressure warning. For others this sequel to their Eighties recordings of Beethoven’s early sonatas is all they would hope for. The playing starts where others’ spontaneity leaves off — a matter of temperament, not wilfulness.

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You know where you are within seconds of the Kreutzer’s start. A massive thrust of the bow begins an intensely expressive line, a crashing piano chord adds grandeur of articulation and then the Presto is off on its unstoppable run. Accent and attack, elemental drama rather than pace, distinguish die duo’s way. In their extremes, she leads with the fiery precision, he with the soulful song. Rubato is generous, but does not cloy.

In the G major Sonata, Op. 96, Kremer and Argerich have a very relaxed way with die opening theme, though the easing-in makes more sense given the moderation of dieir eventual Allegro. In this sonata’s Adagios, Argerich finds inward but full-toned sonorities and Kroner’s line takes on a new, serene dimension.

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This is a very fine performance, while the Kreutzer is astonishing — a showpiece properly addressed. No comparisons: it has to be heard, but no mere room could contain this playing. Robert Maycock