Thomas Albertus Irnberger and Michael Korstick play Beethoven

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COMPOSERS: Ludwig van Beethoven
LABELS: Gramola
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, Op. 30 Nos 1 & 2; Rondo in G; Six German Dances
PERFORMER: Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin), Michael Korstick (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Gramola 99053 (hybrid CD/SACD)


The first two Op. 30 Violin Sonatas may be near neighbours chronologically speaking, but in spirit they’re worlds apart. In Op. 30 No. 1 the energy is contained: it may be Classicism revivified and expanded, but it’s still essentially Classical – an ordered garden, despite some eye-catching features. No. 2 however strains at the leash, one moment teetering on the cliff-edge of Byronic Romanticism, the next exploding with tigerish humour – has Beethoven’s ‘Promethean’ C minor mode ever sounded less tragic than in this sonata’s finale? Thomas Albertus Irnberger and Michael Korstick make a very good job of differentiating the two styles. No. 1 is taut and muscular, but also flexible and tender where required, yet you never sense the frame is being stretched to breaking. If anything, though, they sound even more at home in the wilds of the C minor Sonata, relishing the passion one moment, the startling playfulness the next, but always with a firm sense of the longer line. And it is very much ‘they’ – this is a proper chamber duo, not ego plus accompanist, and the recording reproduces it well. Even the ‘fillers’ – the Rondo and German Dances – are enjoyable, not least because the enjoyment is so audibly shared.


Stephen Johnson