Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata for Piano and Violin No.8 in G major, op.30/3

Media Review / Comparison


2012-01-03 — Original posting (on Blogger)
2013-07-15 — New standard layout applied
2014-05-10 — Added reference to CD from Rubinstein Album Collection
2014-10-31 — Re-posting as is (WordPress)
2016-06-23 — Brushed up for better readability

Introduction

This is another note on the recordings of Beethoven’s sonatas for piano & violin in my music collection, about the sonata in G major, op.30/3 — 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.8 in G major op.30/3 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 assai (6/8)
  2. Tempo di Minuetto, ma molto moderato e grazioso (3/4)
  3. Allegro vivace (2/4)

The (measured) metronome numbers are approximate values only.


Yehudi Menuhin, Wilhelm Kempff (1970)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.2, Menuhin, Kempff, CD coverBeethoven, The Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol.II: Sonatas opp.30, 47, 96

Yehudi MenuhinWilhelm Kempff

DG 459 436-2 (stereo, 2 CD); ℗ 1970
Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.2, Menuhin, Kempff, UPC-A barcode
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spacerYehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Kempff (1970) — for general comments see op.30/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’44”; 3/8 = 88
    The tempo is slightly better (faster / less slow) than with Oistrakh / Oborin. The articulation (primarily in the violin) is not always careful / accurate, there are rushed passages.
  2. 8’04”; 1/4 = 78
    The tempo is better than with Oistrakh / Oborin — on the other hand, there are some intonation issues, the coordination is occasionally shaky (e.g., when the violin plays 4 beats over triplets in the piano part), the vibrato is a bit nervous, some excessive portamenti.
  3. 3’58”; 1/4 = 115
    Often clumsy — a slow Allegretto.
Recommendation: No
Rating: 2.0 (2 / 2 / 2)

David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin (1962)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Oistrakh, Oborin, CD coverBeethoven: 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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spacerDavid Oistrakh and Lev Oborin (1962) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 7’18”; 3/8 = 80
    Rather slow: just about allegretto; emotions are too controlled. At the transition to the second theme, why are the pp sections taken slower (or played as a fermata)? This interrupts the musical flow!
  2. 9’27”; 1/4 = 68
    Too slow — adagio, not tempo di minuetto, very static; the violin sounds almost as played con sordino, ornaments and accompaniment are played as melody.
  3. 3’25”; 1/4 = 135
    OK, but could/should be a bit more vivid: somewhat too controlled
Recommendation: No
Rating: 2.3 (2 / 2 / 3)

Henryk Szeryng, Arthur Rubinstein (1961)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas 5, 8, 9, Szeryng, Rubinstein, CD coverBeethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 5, 8, 9 (opp.24, 30/3, 47)

Henryk SzeryngArthur Rubinstein (1961)

RCA Victor / BMG 09026 63040-2 (stereo); ℗ / © 2003
Beethoven: Violin sonatas 5, 8, 9, Szeryng, Rubinstein, UPC-A barcode
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spacerRubinstein, The Complete Album Collection (142 CDs), cover, CD # 80Arthur Rubinstein — The Complete Album Collection
CD #80: Beethoven: Violin Sonata op.30/3; Brahms: Violin Sonata No.1 op.78
Arthur Rubinstein, Henryk Szeryng

SONY Classical 88691936912 (142 CDs / 2 DVDs, mono / stereo); ℗ / © 2011
Rubinstein, The Complete Album Collection (142 CDs), Top cover Rubinstein, The Complete Album Collection (142 CDs), UPC-A barcode
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Arthur Rubinstein and Henryk Szeryng (1961) — for general comments see op.24

Comments on the Performance

  1. 4’30” (exposition not repeated); 3/8 = 92
    Rushed passages (sixteenths) in the piano, the articulation is not careful (on both parts), Szeryng’s vibrato is way too strong.
  2. 8’08”; 1/4 = 82
    The vibrato is too strong and too nervous, excessive portamenti, loses intensity and focus, some odd tempo variations / alterations.
  3. 3’28”; 1/4 = 140
    The articulation is (sounds) coarse, rough, sometimes almost careless.
Recommendation: No
Rating: 2.3 (2 / 3 / 2)

Arthur Grumiaux, Clara Haskil (1957)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Grumiaux, Haskil, CD coverBeethoven: 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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spacerArthur Grumiaux and Clara Haskil (1957) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’06”; 3/8 = 104
    Fast — but given the bad acoustics (reverberation, mono recording, microphone placement), the tempo should really be slower, also because several passages appear rushed / pushed. Further, in fast passages the piano is too loud, dense and dominating, leading to a lack in transparency.
  2. 7’51”; 1/4 = 81
    The balance (for a change!) is better than with Perlman / Ashkenazy — faster, but without “internal unrest”. But also here, the vibrato is too nervous for a slow movement.
  3. 3’29”; 1/4 = 140
    OK, the sound balance (for once!) gives the piano a better chance of being heard. A little more transparency would not hurt.
Recommendation:
Rating: 3.3 (3 / 4 / 3)

Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy (1975)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Perlman, Ashkenazy, CD coverBeethoven: 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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spacerItzhak Perlman and Vladimir Ashkenazy (1975) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’38”; 3/8 = 94
    Dramatic, emotional, good agogics, articulation, phrasing; keep the tension. Perlman even holds back his vibrato; one of the best movements with these artists (so far, in this series).
  2. 7’58”; 1/4 = 78
    Ashkenazy’s piano accompaniment is too much in the foreground, dominating; also, even though the tempo is not excessive, there is some unrest in this interpretation that does not fit a Tempo di Minuetto, ma molto moderato e grazioso.
  3. 3’25”; 1/4 = 140
    Good! Vivid, with liveliness and good agogics, the artists appear to have fun with this!
Recommendation: OK, except for the slow movement
Rating: 3.7 (4 / 3 / 4)

Renaud Capuçon, Frank Braley (2009)

VlSon_Capuçon_BraleyBeethoven: 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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spacerRenaud Capuçon and Frank Braley (2009) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’17”; 3/8 = 102
    Good, but the articulation is not always consistent between the two artists; Braley could/should sometimes articulate better (lacking some agility?).
  2. 7’32”; 1/4 = 84
    Sometimes there is some slight unrest (not as bad as with Perlman / Ashkenazy, though), and the agogics are not always well-coordinated between the artists.
  3. 3’33”; 1/4 = 140
    Good, though the accents / sforzati could be more pronounced.
Recommendation: OK
Rating: 4.0 (4 / 4 / 4)

Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich (1994)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas vol.3, Kremer, Argerich, CD coverBeethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 6 – 8 (op. 30)

Gidon KremerMartha Argerich

DG 445 652-2 (stereo); ℗ / © 1994
VlSon_Kremer_Argerich_6_7_8
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spacerGidon Kremer and Martha Argerich (1994) — for general comments see op.30/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 6’21”; 3/8 = 100
    Excellent, dramatic, with the usual presence & alertness, full of life (just listen to the exchanges of trills between the two artists!), yet with controlled articulation, transparent, clear!
  2. 8’32”; 1/4 = 80
    An excellent interpretation. Kremer / Argerich master the key difficulty in this movement: the piano is critical to keeping / maintaining the calm, serene mood also through more dramatic sections, without introducing “internal unrest” as with some of the interpretations above.Very good articulation, agogics & dynamics.
  3. 3’24”; 1/4 = 140
    Again excellent in phrasing, agogics, dynamics, and presence / alertness.
Recommendation: Yes!
Rating: 5.0 (5 / 5 / 5)

Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov (2008)

Beethoven: Violin sonatas, Faust, Melnikov, CD coverBeethoven: 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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spacerIsabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov (2008) — for CD information and general comments see op.12/1

Comments on the Performance

  1. 5’56”; 3/8 = 108
    Excellent again! Faust and Melnikov are exploring the tempo limits, but the articulation remains controlled — presence, phrasing, dialogs, transparency/clarity remain impeccable!
  2. 6’10”; 1/4 = 100
    At first, this feels “very fast” — until one realizes that this is proper “Tempo di Minuetto“, a dance, after all! This is simply excellent: there are so many new details to discover, in the sforzati, the phrasing and the articulation. And this interpretation reveals that this movement is not just contemplative!
  3. 3’04”; 1/4 = 154
    Faust / Melnikov start off faster than all others, and they sometimes even accelerate to 1/4 = 160 — yet, it is all carefully and precisely articulated in both instruments, the coordination between the artists is just perfect!
Recommendation: YES!
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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