ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven: Sonatas for Fortepiano and Violin – Volume 1
WORKS: Violin Sonatas Nos 4 & 9 (Kreutzer), Opp. 23 & 47
PERFORMER: Susanna Ogata (violin), Ian Watson (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: COR16138
These two sonatas, composed some four years apart, both have a presto opening movement in the key of A minor, and in the final moments of Sonata No. 4’s first movement the music reaches a peak of agitation in a passage that clearly looks forward to the full-blooded style of the Kreutzer Sonata. The atmosphere of excitement in both works is very well captured by Susanna Ogata and Ian Watson, who plays on a copy of an early 19th-century piano by Anton Walter. One of the leading Viennese makers of the day, his instruments were well known to Beethoven.
The Kreutzer Sonata was written not for the famous French player (the dedication to him represented a change of heart on Beethoven’s part), but for the violinist George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower. When he and Beethoven rehearsed the work, Bridgetower seized on a long-held pause near the start of the presto in order to launch into a spontaneous cadenza, much to the composer’s delight. Full marks, then, to Susanna Ogata for doing the same during the repeat. These are altogether compelling performances, with well-judged tempos (except, perhaps, for the curiously fast account of the ‘pattering’ second variation from the Kreutzer’s middle movement), and the music always vividly characterised. Misha Donat