Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for Piano and Violin No.2 in A major, op.12/2

Media Review / Comparison


2011-11-09 — Original posting (on Blogger)
2013-07-04 — New standard layout applied
2014-10-31 — Re-posting as is (WordPress)
2016-06-22 — Brushed up for better readability


Outline


Introduction

This is the second note on the recordings of Beethoven’s sonatas for piano & violin in my music collection, about the sonata in A, op.12/2 — references to the CDs are given at the bottom of the respective section, or in one of the related postings, or see the summary on the postings covering Beethoven’s Sonatas for Piano & Violin.

Below you find my comments on the recordings that I have for the Sonata for Piano and Violin No.2 in A major, op.12/2 by  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827). Here’s a short list of the recordings in this comparison, in alphabetic order:


The Movements

The movements in this sonata are

  1. Allegro vivace (6/8)
  2. Andante più tosto allegretto (2/4)
  3. Allegro piacevole (3/4)

The (measured) metronome numbers are approximate values only.


Comments on the Interpretations

Yehudi Menuhin, Wilhelm Kempff (1970)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.1, Menuhin, Kempff, CD cover

Beethoven, The Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol.1: Sonatas opp.12, 23, 24; Rondo in G, WoO 41; 12 Variations on “Se vuol ballare” from “Le nozze di Figaro”

Yehudi Menuhin, Wilhelm Kempff

DGG 459 433-2 (stereo, 2 CD); ℗ 1970

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.1, Menuhin, Kempff, UPC-A barcode
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Yehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Kempff (1970) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 7’05”; 3/8 = 98
    allegretto at best: not fast enough, definitely not allegro vivace!
  2. 5’21”; 1/4 = 52
    The piano is too loud and coarse
  3. 5’27”; 1/4 = 200
    Same here.
Recommendation:no
Rating:2.3 (2 / 3 / 2)

David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin (1962)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Oistrakh, Oborin, CD cover

Beethoven: The Sonatas for Piano and Violin (opp. 12, 23, 24, 30, 47, 96)

David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin

Philips 468 406-2 (stereo, 4 CD); ℗ 2001

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Oistrakh, Oborin, CD, UPC-A barcode
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David Oistrakh and Lev Oborin (1962) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’56”; 3/8 = 102
    Just like Menuhin: this is not allegro vicace in the first movement!
  2. 6’04”; 1/4 = 44
    Same here: this is definitely too slow for an Andante più tosto allegretto: the melodies sound overstretched, and the heavy interpretation makes it sound even slower. And I dislike excessive portamenti!
  3. 5’08”; 1/4 = 210
Recommendation:no, unfortunately
Rating:2.7 (3 / 2 / 3)

Arthur Grumiaux, Clara Haskil (1956)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Grumiaux, Haskil, CD cover

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Complete (opp. 12, 23, 24, 30, 47, 96)

Arthur Grumiaux, Clara Haskil

Brilliant Classics 93329 (mono, 3 CD); licensed from Decca

VlSon_Grumiauz_Haskil
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Arthur Grumiaux and Clara Haskil (1956) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 4’33” (exposition not repeated); 3/8 = 112
    The rhythm is sometimes unclear, as if they hadn’t entirely mastered the tempo (and the reverberation does not help); sometimes the pace appears to “run away” (problems due to cuts?); bad control (?) also dynamically; too bad they don’t repeat the exposition.
  2. 5’41”; 1/4 = 44
    Just like with Oistrakh: too slow, definitely not even andante!
  3. 4’31”; 1/4 = 250
    For me, this is too fast, too much pushing forward, almost chased, and a bit coarse — rather than piacevole (even if that attribute only were to apply to the ritornello part of the rondo).
Recommendation:no
Rating:3.0 (3 / 3 / 3)

Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy (1973)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Perlman, Ashkenazy, CD cover

Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas, Complete (opp. 12, 23, 24, 30, 47, 96)

Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy

Decca 421 453-2 (stereo, 4 CD); ℗ 1974 / © 1988

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Perlman, Ashkenazy, UPC-A barcode
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Itzhak Perlman and Vladimir Ashkenazy (1973) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’27”; 3/8 = 108
    allegro at best, not vivace, from the tempo — at least there is some liveliness in the interpretation, sometimes pushing forward, especially in the syncopated parts.
  2. 5’37”; 1/4 = 48
    The vibrato is too nervous
  3. 4’56”; 1/4 = 230
    Somewhat coarse rather than piacevole — and the vibrato is too nervous.
Recommendation:nothing special, really, I’m afraid — the first movement is the best part of this interpretation of op.12/2
Rating:3.3 (4 / 3 / 3)

Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich (1985)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.1, Kremer, Argerich, CD cover

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos.1-3 (op.12)

Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich

DG 415 138-2 (stereo); ℗ 1985

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.1, Kremer, Argerich, UPC-A barcode
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Gidon Kremer and Martha Argerich (1985) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 5’46”; 3/8 = 118
    Not sure I like their interpretation of allegro vivace: sure, it’s a fast allegro here, but some sforzati appear rushed (is that Kremer’s idea of vivace?) — and the rushing pretty much destroys the effect of the syncopes.
  2. 5’11”; 1/4 = 50
    Kremer’s articulation is often sloppy / mushy; at least, it sounds like allegretto at times.
  3. 5’02”; 1/4 = 220
    The piacevole is represented well in the ritornello parts of the Rondo, and Kremer’s “raw” tone fits well to the lively intermezzi, though the vibrato now sounds a bit fast, given historically informed performances.
Recommendation:I like Martha Argerich’s agility here — not sure I like Kremer’s tone; not the best of their recordings, I think.
Rating:4.0 (4 / 4 / 4)

Renaud Capuçon, Frank Braley (2009)

VlSon_Capuçon_Braley

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Violin & Piano (opp. 12, 23, 24, 30, 47, 96)

Renaud Capuçon, Frank Braley

Virgin Classics LV 7873 (stereo, 3 CD); ℗ / © 2010

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Capuçon, Braley, EAN-13 barcode
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Renaud Capuçon and Frank Braley (2009) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’29”; 3/8 = 112
    The tempo in the first movement maybe is at the lower margin for an allegro vivace — when focusing on the half-bars; however, the focus here is more on the eights, making the movement sound “busy”, even though others play it faster (some would probably argue that the correct reading would be to focus on the 3/8, i.e., the half-bars).
  2. 5’13”; 1/4 = 48
    This is fine — but why did they place the microphones so close that we hear all of Capuçon’s breathing?
  3. 4’45”; 1/4 = 230
    Excellent: piacevole in the ritornello parts, dramatic in the intermezzi; they use the same tempo as Grumiaux / Haskil — but here, the tempo does not feel rushed, pushing forward, and all is precise and well articulated!
Recommendation:Yes, especially for their last movement!
Rating:4.3 (4 / 4 / 5)

Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov (2008)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Faust, Melnikov, CD cover

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Piano & Violin (opp. 12, 23, 24, 30, 47, 96)

Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov

Harmonia mundi HMC 902025.27 (stereo, 3 CD + 1 CD/DVD); ℗ 2009

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Faust, Melnikov, UPC-A barcode
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Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov (2008) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1:

Comments on the Performance

  1. 5’51”; 3/8 = 128Just perfect: the tempo is right, I like their syncopes, the articulation in the fast passages, the occasional extra ornament — and this at a tempo that is faster than all others, yet does not feel rushed, as they (correctly) focus on the half-bars of the 6/8 measure; perfectly clear and well articulated!
  2. 4’56”; 1/4 = 48
    A class better than all others! They don’t push the speed, but make it sound allegretto by articulation, and “built-in” ornaments are played as such, not as melodies!
  3. 5’01”; 1/4 = 220
    Perfect agreement between the two artists, both in dynamics and agogics — what else can I say?
Recommendation:I’m so glad I have a reference interpretation here — my favorite recording!
Rating:5.0 (5 / 5 / 5)

Addendum

If you are not an active pianist or violinist, you might want to follow this music using a pocket score — these typically come in two volumes:

While musicians, of course, prefer a full size score edition, such as Henle’s, also in two volumes:



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