Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN

Violin Sonatas: No. 5 Op. 24 "(Spring)"
No. 8 Op.30, no. 3
No. 9. Op 47 "(Kreutzer)"

Arthur Rubinstein (piano)
Henryk Szeryng (Violin)
Recorded 1958 (No. 5 & 9); 1961 (No. 8)
RCA The Rubinstein Collection Vol. 40 09026630402

Both Rubinstein and Szeryng were amongst the most notable artists in the 20th Century and shared a strong personal and artist rapport as well as personal friendship. They have recorded violin sonatas of Brahms as well as of Beethoven as well as trios by Brahms, Schubert and Schumann with Pierre Fournier. Szeryng was later to record the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Ingrid Haebler. I had not heard the combination of Rubinstein and Szreryng before and therefore looked forward with great pleasure to hearing this disc.

As in so many musical series, the named works are much better known than the unnamed ones and this is scandalously the case with the Beethoven Violin Sonatas. The first work I played was the relatively unknown No. 8. This is a very fine work in three movements of Beethoven's maturity, notable for a second movement which extends a minuet into a fascinating and moving slow movement followed by an exciting presto. The performance in this sonata is excellent, with virtuoso playing and well balanced dialogue between the instruments. The recording, which is from a later date than that of the other works on this disc, is very good.

Unfortunately as soon as one starts to play the "Spring" and "Kreutzer" Sonatas it is clear that the recording is inferior as the microphone gives a sharp edge to the violin tone which is very wearing to the ear. One cannot help suspecting also that the two artists had played these two sonatas too often as the playing, although never less than competent has a routine feel about it and lacks excitement. The "Kreutzer" in particular, with it's numerous changes in tempi is very much a virtuoso piece and here it lacks that indefinable excitement of players whose technique is (or seems to be) at the edge of failure. The total effect frankly is rather disappointing. As there have been so many really good discs of these two sonatas - notably the Perlman/Askenazy performance, this disc can only be recommended to those who are particularly interested in the 8th Sonata

Arthur Baker

Sonata No. 8

Sonata No. 5 & 9

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