Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively
Crotchet

 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Complete Violin Sonatas
CD 1 [71.12]
Sonata No. 1 in D major Op. 12 No. 1 [19.19]; Sonata No. 2 in A major Op. 12 No. 2 [17.16]; Sonata No. 3 in E flat Op. 12 No. 3 [17.19] (1799); Sonata No. 4 in A minor Op. 23 (1800) [17.15]
CD 2 [71.08]
Sonata No. 5 Spring Op. 24 (1801) [21.32]; Sonata No. 6 Op. 30 No. 1 in A major (1802) [23.17]; Sonata No. 7 in C minor Op. 30 No. 2 (1802) [26.15]
CD 3 [75.26] Sonata No. 8 in G major Op. 30 No. 3 (1802) [18.05]; Sonata No. 9 in A major Op. 47 Kreutzer (1803) [32.53]; Sonata No. 10 in G major Op. 96 (1812)
Uri Pianka (violin); Jonathan Zak (piano)
rec. Israel Museum, Jerusalem, three consecutive Saturdays, November 1983. DDD
ROMÉO 7256/7/8 [217.46] 
Experience Classicsonline


You could easily overlook this set of recordings almost falling into the historic category. The recordings were made live in
Jerusalem in 1983 by two performers of whom you have probably never heard. The results are now issued on an obscure label. Uri Pianka is the now retired concert-master of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. The pianist Jonathan Zak wrote the somewhat succinct booklet notes. He is a prolific recording artist. 

Their approach in these live recordings in front of an enthusiastic audience over three evenings seems to be encapsulated in the First Sonata of the Op. 12 group. This is played with elegance, élan and a real feeling for the importance of structure. There is a sonata-form opening movement, a straightforward (for Beethoven) Theme and Variations for a middle movement and a Haydnesque rondo finale. The playing is neat, crisp and highly civilized. 

The Op. 12 sonatas date from 1799 and are rather more classical than romantic in style. This aspect is certainly brought out in the Second Sonata, again a three movement work which ends with a witty and quite complex Rondo. I had a talented A-level pupil recently who wanted to perform this work. We worked on it for some months and the rhythmic intricacies of the first movement in particular never failed to catch us out. The Third Sonata in Op. 12 would have been beyond us both even if we had wanted to a put on a performance. It is not only more demanding technically but also emotionally. It seems at times to be waving the 18th Century farewell especially in the depth and beauty of its slow movement which is so wondrously captured here. Also its ensemble demands are high. This piece, more than the other two, demands an equal partnership. 

Despite what somewhat chaotic booklet notes suggest it was three years later that Beethoven wrote the two sonatas Op. 23 not the Op. 30 ones. No. 4 is almost the last of the three movement works, except for No. 6 and the vast Kreutzer. It begins with a brusque Presto which makes me think that I have just walked in on a Finale. The real Finale is a wild Rondo Allegro here played brilliantly. It brings this much underrated sonata to a surprising end. 

It’s with the Fifth Sonata, the so-called Spring, because, no doubt, of its sunny first subject, that I start to come adrift from Pianka and Zak. It depends, I suppose, on whether you regard this 1802 piece as basically classical or romantic in outlook. I favour the latter. Its title and overall demeanour lead me to this view. I find this recording rather matter-of-fact, even unrefined. It’s interesting that this duo shave no less than three minutes off my favourite version: that of Perlman and Ashkenazy recorded in 1973 (Decca Legends 458 618-2). They take the Rondo Finale at quite a lick. These latter musicians obviously take a more leisurely, a more Romantic view. What view do you take? You know mine. 

The gentle and easy-going Sixth Sonata is the first of the widely contrasted Op. 30 works. This is again in three movements with, unusually, the middle movement Adagio being a rondo. The finale is not the one originally intended. That should have been what is now the Presto finale of the Kreutzer. The theme and variations used here is much more suitable to the overall amiable mood nicely conveyed by Zak and Pianka whose beautiful 1704 Rogerius violin seems most suited to a work like this. 

Op. 30 no, 2, the Seventh Sonata, is in Beethoven’s most serious key of C minor. It often denotes drama and passion as here, in the outer movements anyway, with their ominous and typically ‘knocking’ motifs. The inner movements consist of an elegantly expressive Adagio in rondo-variation form and a light-weight scherzo. This work comes off really well in this partnership but I would have liked even more passion in the finale. 

The Eighth Sonata Op. 30 no. 3, one of my favourites, occupies a place in the canon similar to that held by the Eighth Symphony. In an easy-going G major it acts as light relief between the powerful C minor sonata and the massive Kreutzer, the Ninth. The Eighth’s three movements encapsulate a long Menuetto and Trio marked ‘Grazioso’. It’s very graciously played here and the brief finale with its opening drone and lively character is reminiscent of Haydn. 

I have often wondered if Beethoven intended his Ninth Sonata to be his last and to make this highly original and dramatic work stand apart from anything previous. His title page inscribed “Scritto in uno stilo molto concertante, quasi come d’un concerto” says it all. A powerful performance is needed. Again I would turn to Perlman and Ashkenazy as mentioned above. The first movement needs special flair. Pianka and Zak emphasise the ‘classical’ antecedents of these sonatas. For me they lack the ‘gravitas’ needed in the first movement with its recitativic opening and for solo violin and first piano entry. True, they are not helped by the somewhat airless recording which did not seem to be such a problem in the earlier works. Their approach suits the middle movement - again a set of variations - where they keep a happy feeling of forward movement. It is, I feel, too light-footed for the finale. 

So to the Tenth Sonata. This four movement work dates from ten years later by which time much water had gone under the bridge. This is a much more Romantic and indeed pastoral work than the Ninth both in melody and harmony. It mostly comes off really well in this beautifully relaxed performance. The Scherzo is placed third and could, arguably, be a little more exciting in terms of attack and tempo. Their overall view of the work is one of confident happiness. 

For myself I shall keep and play this disc but will not rid myself of versions by some of my other favourite performers. Pianka and Zak form a true partnership and their stylistic approach  is consistently rendered. I can only end by saying that the set is well worth searching out. 

Gary Higginson 

 


 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.