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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine set to compare with those by Kremer and Faust, 15 Mar 2013
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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
This set, well recorded in the 1970's, brings together various single discs previously issued of Beethoven's violin sonatas by two musicians at the very peak of their very considerable powers. The recording does full justice to all of this.

Both Perlman and Ashkenazy take a very powerful and dramatic view of sonatas 5 and 9 especially. These are high powered performances and take full advantage of the increased power and tonal range of their modern instruments. The music can take such an approach. Speeds are generally forward moving and accents are fully delivered but apart from that the performances stay within the limits of the printed notes and nothing untoward is attempted.

The remainder of the set is played at a slightly lower level of intensity and this suits them very well. Nevertheless, in general terms this set can be described as being a more powerful concept than either Kremer of Faust, to take two well respected alternative and modern options.

Kremer and Argerich offer smaller scaled concepts, sharply characterised rather than powerfully stated. Those are more mercurial and imaginatively expressive. They are certainly as fine and many will prefer their relative lack of sheer power. The drive is just as strong though.

Isabel Faust offers a more chamber-like performance than either of the above two. Once more,nothing is attempted that goes beyond the boundaries of the written note but, of the three, this is arguably the closest to the sounds and chamber context that Beethoven had in mind.

These are three very fine sets and any purchaser buying any one of them should be very well rewarded. The differences of performances only goes to show what fine music this is as it is able to withstand such variations in delivery and all within the written score.

If the whole set of the sonatas is an attraction, then there are three fine contenders here, all offering contrasting viewpoints. Perlman and Ashkenazy offer the most powerfully dramatic set ideally suited for a concert hall; Kremer and Argerich offer the most imaginatively incisive view possibly more suitable for a smaller hall and Faust offers the version most clearly suited for a chamber environment.

I would suggest that all three will give close to equal satisfaction but with markedly different concepts. All three therefore deserve to be considered seriously for purchase but it might help potential purchasers if they first considered what scale of performance they might prefer. Relating a notional concert venue to performance types might be a useful guide to this consideration.

A fine set therefore to consider along with those from Faust and Kremer, each offering their own unique insights and giving considerable alternative options for collectors.
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Beethoven: Violin Sonatas
Beethoven: Violin Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (Audio CD - 1988)
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