Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
A fresh and inspiring set to rival the very best of these works
on 4 May 2013
This very well recorded set of the violin sonatas was released in 2009 and can be summarised as being unusually fresh and inspiring as a set and quite different to both the much praised and admired sets by Perlman/Ashkenazy and the Kremer/Argerich.
The differences are largely a matter of scale and intent as briefly summarised as below:
The Perlman/Ashkenazy set from the 1970s and now available as a moderately priced boxed set, is the most dramatic and openly powerful set offering large, big-boned performances with close and full-toned recordings to match. This comes over as a set of performances conceived on a large scale and would be very suitable for large concert halls with a need to project over large areas. The scale of the piano playing and recording far exceeds that of the instruments available to Beethoven at the time of composition.
The Kremer/Argerich set is somewhat smaller in scale and not so 'Romantic' in style as the Perlman/Ashkenazy set. Instead of such an openly dramatic and powerful conception it offers a series of performances typically full of incident and incisive playing from both musicians. Flashes of dynamic and rhythmical detail leap out of a fairly closely miked recording that is more intimate in scale. This is a set that reflects the individual characteristics of the players being so full of closely observed incident and flashes of temperament. It would be easy to imagine this set being suitable for medium sized halls.
The new Faust/Melnikov set being considered here, is conceived on a more intimate scale than either of the two rivals described above. Although the dynamic range is less than either of the other two, it misses nothing in terms of rhythmical or dynamic detail. It is as incisive as Kremer/Argerich but not so insistent. The drama that is underlined by Perlman/Ashkenazy is present but not so forcefully delivered. The performances are sensitive to everything that Beethoven has written but with a degree of intentional moderation. There is a strong sense of forward momentum but never over-driven. Everything is modified by a considerable use of light and shade and, additionally, the sense of dance permeates much of the faster music. By combining characteristics to be found in both the Ashkenazy/Perlman and the Argerich/Kremer sets but in a more moderate manner this set could be considered to be the best of all worlds.
These performances by Faust and Melnikov stay within the boundaries of the 'Classical' period and, of the three sets, is probably the one that Beethoven himself would most closely identify with. This is a set of performances that is easy to imagine being played in a 'chamber' setting with a small but interested audience. It therefore seems ideal for home enjoyment and appreciation. The recording is a little less forward than either of the other two and this allows for a more relaxed listening experience.
I would therefore suggest that this set deserves to be given very serious consideration by potential purchasers either as an 'only' set or as part of a comparative collection.