Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Violin Sonatas: No. 5 Op. 24 "(Spring)"
No. 8 Op.30, no. 3
No. 9. Op 47 "(Kreutzer)"
Arthur Rubinstein (piano)
Henryk Szeryng (Violin)
Recorded 1958 (No. 5 & 9); 1961 (No. 8)
RCA The Rubinstein Collection
Both Rubinstein and Szeryng were amongst the most notable artists in the
20th Century and shared a strong personal and artist rapport as well as personal
friendship. They have recorded violin sonatas of Brahms as well as of Beethoven
as well as trios by Brahms, Schubert and Schumann with Pierre Fournier. Szeryng
was later to record the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Ingrid Haebler.
I had not heard the combination of Rubinstein and Szreryng before and therefore
looked forward with great pleasure to hearing this disc.
As in so many musical series, the named works are much better known than
the unnamed ones and this is scandalously the case with the Beethoven Violin
Sonatas. The first work I played was the relatively unknown No. 8. This is
a very fine work in three movements of Beethoven's maturity, notable for
a second movement which extends a minuet into a fascinating and moving slow
movement followed by an exciting presto. The performance in this sonata is
excellent, with virtuoso playing and well balanced dialogue between the
instruments. The recording, which is from a later date than that of the other
works on this disc, is very good.
Unfortunately as soon as one starts to play the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" Sonatas
it is clear that the recording is inferior as the microphone gives a sharp
edge to the violin tone which is very wearing to the ear. One cannot help
suspecting also that the two artists had played these two sonatas too often
as the playing, although never less than competent has a routine feel about
it and lacks excitement. The "Kreutzer" in particular, with it's numerous
changes in tempi is very much a virtuoso piece and here it lacks that indefinable
excitement of players whose technique is (or seems to be) at the edge of
failure. The total effect frankly is rather disappointing. As there have
been so many really good discs of these two sonatas - notably the
Perlman/Askenazy performance, this disc can only be recommended to those
who are particularly interested in the 8th Sonata
Sonata No. 8
Sonata No. 5 & 9