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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Sonatas Op. 12: No.1 in D [18:45]; No.2 in A [17:58]; No.3 in E flat [17:43]
Violin Sonata No.4 in A minor, Op.23 [19:13]
Violin Sonata No.5 in F, Op.24 Spring  [22:15]
Violin Sonata No.6 in A, Op.30 No.1 [22:42]
Violin Sonata No.7 in C minor, Op.30 No.2 [26:39]
Jean Fournier (violin)
Ginette Doyen (piano)
rec. Paris, 1952-54
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1532-33 [2 CDs: 145:22]

Violin Sonata No.8 in G, Op.30 No.3 [18:35]
Violin Sonata No.9 in A, Op.47 Kreutzer  [33:08]
Violin Sonata No.10 in G, Op.96 [22:50]
Jean Fournier (violin)
Ginette Doyen (piano)
rec. Paris, 1952-54
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1534 [74:36]

Jean Fournier (1911-2003) was the younger brother of cellist Pierre, but remained somewhat in the shadow of his brother. His teachers were Alfred Brun, George Enescu, Boris Kamensky and Jacques Thibaud. Ginette Doyen (1921-2002) studied with Lazare-LÚvy and Jean Galon at the Paris Conservatoire. The pair were husband and wife. In addition to being regular duo partners (there's some rare footage of them in action on the Meloclassic Facebook page), Jean formed a piano trio with cellist Antonio Janigro and pianist Paul Badura-Skoda.

Freshness and energy abound in these stylish readings, and the conversational quality elicited by the two performers is striking. Where Beethoven calls for virtuoso flourish the duo deliver. Where lyricism and profundity is required this is supplied in full measure. Fournier's tapping into the spiritual depths of the slow movements is very reminiscent of Menuhin.

The technical challenges of the Violin Sonata No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 12, No. 3 are ably addressed, especially in the demanding piano part of the first movement. Likewise, the mighty proportions of the Kreutzer Sonata are realized with a performance on the grand scale. The opening movement has nobility and drama, whilst the Adagio is enchanting, with the variations superbly characterized. The finale brims over with verve and vigour. I'm particularly enthused by the the Sonata No. 4 in A Minor, where the duo make an effective contrast between the restless quality of the outer movements and the beguiling simplicity of the slow movement.

Sunny confidence imbues the Spring Sonata, where new life and renewal are conveyed with optimistic anticipation in the opener, whilst the slow movement basks in reflective meditation. There's ample wit and humour in the off-beats of the Scherzo, and elegant expression in the rondo finale. The same affability is found in in Op. 30 No. 1 in A major. The slow movement if hauntingly beautiful and Fournier and Doyen make much of the music’s lyricism. Op. 96, which completes the cycle, is fervent and inspired, and the duo project the radiance, joy, hope and pastoral qualities of the music to perfection.

This cycle of the complete sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven was set down in Paris between 1952 and 1954, and these expert transfers derive from finely preserved Westminster LPs. Forgotten Records have worked miracles.

Stephen Greenbank
  
Previous review: Jonathan Woolf



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