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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Op. 30 Nos 1-3

Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Lars Vogt (piano) (Ondine)

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ODE13922_Beethoven

Beethoven
Violin Sonatas, Op. 30 Nos 1-3
Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Lars Vogt (piano)
Ondine ODE 1392-2   70:52 mins

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The most famous of these three sonatas is the turbulent and grandly conceived middle one, in Beethoven’s characteristically dramatic key of C minor. But if the outer works of the set are less ambitious in scope, they are no less strikingly individual. The A major Sonata, Op. 30 No. 1 originally had a finale in whirlwind tarantella rhythm, but Beethoven eventually transferred it to the hastily composed Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47, and in its place wrote a set of variations on a gentle theme more in keeping with the sonata’s intimate and lyrical nature; while Op. 30 No. 3 constantly surprises with the wit of its invention.

Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt make a formidable team: technically right at the top of their game (Tetzlaff’s bow control is phenomenal), and yet at the same time always managing to convey the notion of taking risks. Their tempos tend to be on the quick side – perhaps too much so in the A major Sonata’s concluding variations, which could do with a touch more grace and elegance; and in the opening movement of the C minor work, which, for all its Allegro con brio marking, really ought to give the impression of four beats to the bar, rather than two. But no one wants their Beethoven to sound comfortable, and the bold originality of these pieces, which stand on the cusp of his innovative middle period style (the Eroica Symphony was to come in the following year) is everywhere in evidence.

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Misha Donat