Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 9 “Kreutzer” & 10

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Violin Sonatas: No. 9 in A, Op. 7 (Kreutzer); No. 10 in G, Op. 96
PERFORMER: Edward Dusinberre (violin), David Korevaar (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 476 3898

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Edward Dusinberre makes clear in the CD booklet note how seriously he’s thought through his interpretations of both these works. He also brings in Tolstoy, whose novella Kreutzer Sonata makes Beethoven’s music the stimulus for adulterous passion, a tribute at least to its power – Dusinberre is clearly in agreement with Tolstoy as to that.

His approach is more Romantic than that of Viktoria Mullova in her impressive recording of the Kreutzer I reviewed last issue – or even than the old-favourite Perlman-Ashkenazy versions, for all their energy and passion.

Yet the passages that leave the strongest impression tend to be the calmest – points of poised stillness in the Kreutzer’s second movement, or the slow variation at the heart of the Op. 96 finale. 

Beautiful as both performances are, and atmospherically recorded, the playing can also be sometimes generalised, too suave. Beethoven’s accents are observed but they rarely bite. It’s not that the players try to smooth over everything.

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Dusinberre lingers over the opening trill of Op. 96, and yet the effect is more languid than ear-catching. And pianist David Korevaar tends to be a shadowy presence beside Dusinberre. There is much to enjoy here, but in the end neither sonata emerges as a whole, rounded experience. Stephen Johnson