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on 29 December 2013
I could never forget the opening of the Spring sonata in the old mono Grumiaux/Haskill recording, but overall this new one is now my favourite. Faust is simply a wonderful violinist and Melnikov supplies all the rest one wants.
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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.
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on 8 January 2017
Wonderful performances of each sonata. Quality or recording
This set should include a supplementary disc as mentioned in advertising and enclosed booklet.
Not included with this purchase, suppliers are unresponsive.
In that respect. "caveat emptor"!
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on 23 November 2009
This is a set that has to be heard to be believed! - beautifully captured playing within a faultless recording balance. Indeed, dynamism between pianist and violinist is what characterises this new set. It is restless, forward thrusting Beethoven, as though both artists are driven to communicate every once of expressive possibility (just listen to the restless momentum in the slow movement of the Kreutzer sonata) but without needing to resort to quirky mannerisms to make their point. This is playing that delves deep into the heart of the music tightening up on details not readily obvious in some other versions. Reviews elsewhere have alluded to the "classical" approach taken by these artists and the result, a tension between classical poise (just listen to Ms Faust's glistening tone) and expressivity, is what makes their playing so refreshing and deeply satisfying. I would say that this set easily displaces the much praised (but very closely miked) Kremer/Argerich set on D.G., or the vintage, Perlman/Ashkenazy set on Decca. Funny to think that now, by comparison with the newcomer, the Perlman, once lauded in its day for its classical purity, actually sounds closer to the traditional romantic school of violinists, while Ashkenazy's playing comes off as dreary, subservient plod. My only reservation has to do with the unusual packaging: We get three standard CD's with the fourth being a double-sided disc (featuring the Kreutzer Sonata on one side and a short "Making Of" DVD on the other). There are four cardboard flaps that fold outwards, each bearing a tray and disc, while the booklet is glued to the centre. Surely at least the booklet could have been made detachable for easier reading? Still, it is a beautifully illustrated set and an absolute listening must!!
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on 24 October 2010
there is something magical about these performances these two soloists make a wonderful combination
I dont think i have heard the beethoven violin sonatas sound so fresh and insightful
the recording is so natural that it feels like its happening live in front of you.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2013
I'm more of a Haydn/Mozart buff and only starting to feel my way into the great maestro's work. I'd heard some of this on John Suchet's radio show and decided to invest in the CD. It really is stunning. So much depth, texture and variety. I play it a lot to unwind and relax, but so many moods are covered in the work that there is something for everyone here. It's a wonderful recording.
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on 30 November 2010
I found these 4 CDs in the Complete Beethoven Sonatas'set to be excellent. Faust plays immaculately throughout. Furthermore the set supplied by Amazon was several £s cheaper than other suppliers even when theirs were at a special discount.
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on 1 April 2011
This is one of those CDs that I have played time and time again. I am always moved by the performances and discovering something new.
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on 11 February 2015
beautiful Beethoven! Marvellous playing from Isabel Faust.
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on 14 September 2013
It is, of course, ridiculous to have only one set of recordings of these remarkable works: and there are two first-rate recordings of recent time - Ibragimova and Kavakos. But Faust's new set must be had! Not to have it is to miss out on something genuinely fabulous, with no credible excuse possible. If Beethoven had heard Faust/Melnikov, he would have written 50 more violin sonatas.
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