Notes and Editorial Reviews
Integrity, directness, intelligence and an intense engagement with the very different complexions of each work all register under the capable hands of Peter Cropper and Martin Roscoe.
When it comes to performing Beethoven, there are some things that do matter and some that don’t: Peter Cropper and Martin Roscoe are strong on the things that do. Integrity, directness, intelligence and an intense engagement with the very different complexions of each work all register – whether spruce and Haydnesque in Op 12 No 1, tempestuous in Op 30 No 2 or serene and occasionally witty in Op 96. Cropper is of course best known as leader of the late-lamented Lindsays, which gives him impeccable credentials as a chamber player, following
in the footsteps of (for example) such lead-violinists as Adolf Busch, Sándor Végh, Robert Mann and, most recently, Norbert Brainin, all of whom supplemented their Beethoven quartet recordings with some if not all of the violin sonatas. Cropper is a hardy, robust player capable of great delicacy, in the ethereal statement of the second subject at around 6'22" into the first movement of the Op 30 No 2, for example, or the Adagio espressivo of the last sonata, Op 96, where his tone is truly sotto voce. The same sonata’s first movement is lyrically spun, while the Adagio interlude that falls midway through the finale has just the right sense of repose. Cropper also calls on one or two old-world expressive devices, the odd hint of portamento in particular (at its subtlest at 5'22" into the first movement of Op 12 No 1) and a varied employment of vibrato. He and Roscoe are at their most compelling in the Sturm und Drang development of the C minor Sonata’s first movement where a combination of cutting staccato, frenzied running passages, wide leaps, fierce accents and sonorous double-stops heightens the mood. A sense of commitment is common to all three performances and if Cropper occasionally strikes the odd ungainly chord or veers from the note’s centre, the effect is a mere passing distraction, like a handful of leaves randomly tossed in a gale. Martin Roscoe’s piano playing is strong and temperate, and the recording is ideally intimate. An auspicious first volume of what may well turn out to be a competitive series.
-- Rob Cowan, Gramophone [4/2007]
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