Beethoven: Sonatas for Fortepiano and Violin – Volume 1

Beethoven's Violin Sonatas Nos 4 & 9 played by Susanna Ogata and Ian Watson.

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Coro
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

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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.

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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