Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (complete)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG Originals
WORKS: Violin Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin), Wilhelm Kempff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 463 605-2 ADD mono Reissue (1953)
Schneiderhan and Kempff’s recordings of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas, first issued in 1953 and now offered on DG’s ‘Originals’ label, still sound both beautifully prepared in detail and wonderfully alive, spontaneous and fresh. They testify to the fact that in those far-off days recording was an event that tended to produce performances that were – and are – performances. Schneiderhan’s tone is essentially sweet, but it’s also characterised by a wondrous variety of colour. He’s able to match innocent tenderness in the Spring Sonata with earthy tenacity and fire in, for instance, the scherzo of the Op. 96 Sonata, while both he and his equally gifted partner show a compelling sense of the music’s architecture. Pinchas Zukerman and Daniel Barenboim, recorded two decades later at the dawn of their careers, have not lost that spontaneity either. Theirs are also rewarding performances, if slightly glossier and, in the case of the Kreutzer Sonata, more concerned with moment than shape. Stephen Pettitt