Itzhak Perlman's '70s recordings with Vladimir Ashkenazy resulted in one of the finest Kreutzer Sonata performances ever recorded. At this live 1998 recital, Perlman is joined by another piano great, Martha Argerich, on that very piece along with Franck's Violin Sonata. Though the two powerhouses haven't recorded together before, they prove to be both sympathetic and intuitive partners. By now, we've come to expect Argerich to steal the show with her brute force and passionate playing, but Perlman's lyricism throughout the first two Beethoven movements is the real highlight. (It's not that Argerich is being tepid; the room's acoustics and microphones just favor the violinist.) On Franck's Violin Sonata, the duo fare even better. Argerich and Perlman sound like they've been playing together forever, and the music's melancholic, but playful poetry really comes into focus. All told, a memorable live performance by two classical greats.
HISTORICAL RECORDINGS · MONO · RECORDED IN *1930 & 1934 NEW REMASTERING FROM ORIGINAL MASTERS IN 24-BIT / 96KHZ BY STUDIO ART ET SON, PARIS. “You simply have to hear Huberman’s recording,” wrote Gramophone of this incandescent 1934 interpretation of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. At the age of 14 Huberman, born in Poland in 1882, had dazzled Brahms with his playing. The prodigy went on to become both a towering violinist and a committed humanitarian activist, rescuing musicians from Nazi Germany to form the future Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Completing this newly remastered Beethoven disc, Huberman is partnered in the Kreutzer Sonata by another legendary Polish-born musician, Ignaz Friedman.
This SACD transfer of Anne-Sophie Mutter’s Beethoven violin sonatas, taken from a series of live recordings from 1998, does not transcend the questionable interpretations. In each of these famous sonatas, Mutter takes excessive liberties with respect to dynamics and phrasing, and while some listeners may appreciate the thought and care she puts into these readings, it sounds as if she is trying a bit too hard to be “musical”. For example, just before the exposition repeat of the “Spring” sonata, several instances of disproportionate agogic pauses, inconsistent use of vibrato, random adherences to sforzando markings, and a sporadic disregard for (or recasting of) dynamics combine to produce an overly fussy performance that lacks momentum and a sense of direction.