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.
Recordings of Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op. 56, by a piano trio rather than by a group of virtuosi (a configuration that almost always misunderstands the work) are not abundant. Still rarer are those like the present release by the Storioni Trio, a Dutch group that takes its name from the maker of the 1790s instrument played by the violinist (and strung, like the viola, with gut strings). Pianist Bart van de Roer plays an 1815 Lagasse fortepiano. This recording is part of a series devoted to Beethoven's piano trios, but the Triple Concerto actually is more comfortable in those surroundings than when forced to keep company with the likes of the Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61.
Sonatas includes works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Béla Bartók and Magnus Lindberg performed by pianist Pasi Eerikäinen and violin player Emil Holmström - Beethoven’s titanic Violin Sonata No. 9, Op.47, the Kreutzer Sonata, Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s Violin Sonata No. 2, one of the most compelling creations of the composer’s avant-garde period. Sonatas, a world premiere on this recording, is a relatively early work by the Finnish Magnus Lindberg. In this work, the composer’s influence all hail from traditional musical traditions – German, French and Italian – though instead of fixating on Baroque or Classical styles, Lindberg takes inspiration from notable 20th-century composers. Pasi Eerikäinen plays first violin with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Emil Holmström has a particular interest in the avant garde, be it Ferrucio Busoni, the Second Viennese School or electroacoustic music, which Holmström regularly performs as a member of the defunensemble.
Daishin Kashimoto, a Japanese national born in London who studied at the Juilliard when barely in long trousers, started prodigiously young – he gave his first full recital aged nine and has scooped most of the world's top violin prizes. Today he is first concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He also has a lively career as soloist and chamber musician. His clean, elegant tone and peerless accuracy suit these Beethoven sonatas, requiring digital precision in, say, the early "classical" Op 12 set or the witty, tail-chasing Scherzo of the C minor, Op 30 No 2. In contrast he easily embraces the big-boned ambitions of the Kreutzer Sonata Op 47, never sounding forced. Konstantin Lifschitz is a sympathetic, alert partner, even if the recording seems to favour the violin perhaps more than Beethoven would have expected. But the musicianship is never in question.
The Czech-born composer Anton Reicha (1770–1836) was an exact contemporary of Beethoven – and his close friend from their mid-teens. The music of each man shows an awareness of what the other was doing: they showed each other their compositions-in-progress. But although Reicha was closely associated with one of the best-known names in western culture, his own music has been grievously neglected: only his woodwind quintets have achieved any currency. Of his vast cycle of almost forty string quartets just one has been recorded before – an omission this ambitious project intends to put right, thereby revealing one of the most inventive and engaging spirits in classical music.
Beethoven wrote ten sonatas for piano and violin, the best known of which are the "Spring" and the "Kreutzer" sonatas. The fame of these two works has tended to result in neglect of the remaining sonatas. This is unfortunate because Beethoven's remaining eight sonatas for piano and violin include much great music. The set of 10 works is of an appropriate size to warrant exploration of the entire group for those with a passion for the violin or for Beethoven. It includes an appealing mix of familiar and unfamiliar music.
The young and trendy duo of Moldavian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Turkish pianist Fazil Say rips deliriously into a highly enterprising program as if tomorrow were a chancy affair. It’s more than their hearts that they wear on their sleeves; they lay out their emotional guts in a dazzling display of virtuosity and breathtaking musical entertainment. At one moment in Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, Kopatchinskaja’s racing along, clipping eighth notes in a furious rush to the finish; at the next she’s finding aphrodisiacal sweetness in a simple, two-bar ritardando. Say follows a pounding accompaniment with a phrase of sudden elegance worthy of the slow movement of the “Emperor” Concerto. In Bartók’s six “Romanian Folk Dances,” Kopatchinskaja sometimes rips her pizzicati with destructive force, sometimes plucks lyrically with wonderfully expressive grace. Perhaps she doesn’t throw off Ravel’s pretty little Sonata with enough casual cool, but in Say’s 13-minute Violin Sonata, she captures all the magic of its moonlit beauty.