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Monday, April 22, 2013

Duo Concertante, Beethoven, Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Beethoven's sonatas for violin and piano are a musically rich subset of his chamber output. They may not have the extraordinary breadth and moving depth of his string quartets, they may not have behind them the bracingly expressive tradition heard in recordings of the cello sonatas from Casals and Rostropovich, or the moving emotional peaks and valleys and the fire of the piano sonatas.

But they have a balanced eloquence and thematic charm unmatched by contemporary works of like instrumentation from the era. If you do not have the complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano you might do well to consider a new edition out on a 3-CD set by Duo Concertante (Marquis 774718151728), a young and vibrant Canadian pairing of Nancy Dahn, violin, and Timothy Steeves, piano.

The duo have played the full cycle together regularly since their formation several years ago. Their affinity for the works is quite apparent as you listen. They give a measured passion to the music that is not overblown but tender and dynamic in turns. They create an elegant balance, a classical parity between the two instruments and their expressive performances have a refreshing clarity and feel for the symmetry of the music that is a joyous experience to hear.

Nowhere have I heard a more detailed refinement in these sonatas. There is as much put into the lesser known works as those more well known.

Get this version and you'll have renditions that do full justice to the music as Beethoven conceived of it. Duo Concertante do a wonderful job.

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