Kuhlau: Violin Sonatas (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Kuhlau
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Violin Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Dora Bratchkova (violin) Andreas Meyer-Hermann (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 363-2
Readers of a certain age might recall the name of Friedrich Kuhlau. He wrote all those piano sonatas we learned as children that conveniently sounded harder than they really were. Those familiar with Danish culture will recognise him as composer of the incidental music to Heiberg’s national play Elverhøj (The Elf’s Hill). And flautists are still grateful for his many pieces that form part of their staple diet.

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For the rest of us, this first ever recording of his complete violin sonatas proves that Kuhlau was a composer to be reckoned with, though like others of his time, he has suffered from the fact that he was a contemporary of Beethoven. His style is not too far removed from that of the great man.

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The two biggest works here are the F minor Sonata, Op. 33, and the E flat Sonata, Op. 64. Both pieces are full of confident gestures, well thought-out textures and fresh ideas, whereas the three sonatas of Op. 79 are slighter works. In Bratchkova and Meyer-Hermann all pieces have found ardent and gifted champions. Stephen Pettitt