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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827)
Sonatas for violin and piano: No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23 [23:40]; No. 5 in F major, Op. 24 [24:13]; No. 8 in G major, Op. 30 No. 3 [16:47]
Ivo Stankov (violin), Ivan Donchev (piano)
rec. no details of date or location supplied
GEGA NEW GR 18 [60:52]

The violin sonatas by Beethoven bar No. 10 are relatively early works and the Bulgarian duo Ivo Stankov and Ivan Donchev play all three sonatas here with a light touch - youthful could be the collective header for the disc.
 
The first movement of the A minor sonata is playfully lyrical and the interplay in the development between the violin and the piano’s left and right hand is gracious. The Andante scherzoso with its fugal writing is utterly elegant and in the tricky Rondo finale both players radiate hundreds of joules of energy. Is the piano too loud occasionally? Maybe a mite but it is hard to tell whether this is due to the playing or the recording balance.
 
The Spring sonata was published at the same time as its predecessor in 1801 and here we meet Beethoven at his sunniest. Accordingly the playing is also on the sunny side of the street. The Allegro is joyful and energetic and full of light. It is tempting to unbutton the overcoat even though we are at the end of October and the days grow shorter as I write this. The Adagio is just as warm and inward as Beethoven would have liked it. The ultra-short Scherzo just whirls past like a bewildered early butterfly on the first day of spring. The concluding Rondo is played with such infectious joie de vivre that one can imagine even Beethoven raising one of his rare smiles.
 
The G major sonata, the third in the Op. 30 set, was published in May 1803 and is dedicated to Tsar Alexander I of Russia. The playing of the first movement is light and lively. The minuet second movement is marked molto moderato e grazioso and ‘grazioso’ is indeed the buzz-word in Stankov and Donchev’s reading. This is one of Beethoven’s loveliest movements. The last one, Allegro vivace, is rather boisterous with scherzo character - even though Beethoven doesn’t say so - and it is played with tongue-in-cheek.
 
The recording is good, even though - at least on my equipment - the piano is reproduced more smoothly and beautifully than the violin. Strangely enough I got the opposite impression when playing some parts of the disc on my portable equipment, a Sony Walkman with high-end headphones.
 
Never mind, this is a refreshing disc and I hope to hear more of this duo - why not more Beethoven?
 
Göran Forsling


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