Notes and Editorial Reviews
R E V I E W S
The old adage "opposites attract" applies to the pairing of two Oehms labelmates in Beethoven's Op. 30 sonatas. As a Beethoven player, pianist Alfredo Perl's mellow sonority and suave lyricism contrast to violinist Benjamin Schmid's edgier temperament and occasional tonal rawness. You notice this in passages where material passes back and forth between instruments, as in the A major Op. 30 No. 1 sonata's variation movement, the C minor Op. 30 No. 2's first-movement canonic sequences, and in the G major Op. 30 No. 3's bantering 16th notes. Yet the performers' clean and flexible ensemble work reflects more than amicable co-existence...Collectors seeking all three Op. 30 works on a single disc can't do
better than this excellently engineered, modestly priced release.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday
In 2003, shortly after playing all Beethoven’s violin sonatas in Wigmore Hall, Benjamin Schmid and Alfredo Perl returned to them in a single session in Bad Endorf as a sort of marathon, the success of which prompted them to excerpt the three sonatas from op. 30 to record. Schmid and Perl reveal these sonatas’ blossoming maturity as well as their rugged strength. Schmid draws from the 1731 Lady Jeanne Stradivari a wide range of timbres without resorting to experiments like those of Anne-Sophie Mutter. Together, Schmid and Perl thread their way through Beethoven’s ideas in obviously sympathetic partnership, from the gnomic statement with which the C-Minor Sonata begins and its first movement’s dotted rhythms and stormy developments, through the more serene slow movement, to the almost aggressively cheerful Sonata in G Major. The engineers have preserved much of their thunder, but sometimes, at moments of repose, the violin appears to recede—and not entirely, perhaps, due to the dynamic balance inherent in works often dominated by the keyboard. These sonatas have provided platforms for violinists as scholarly as Joseph Szigeti, who built a formidable reputation as their explicator and champion, as dapper as Zino Francescatti, and as echt-Viennese as Fritz Kreisler. But Schmid and Perl add something interesting of their own. And they don’t achieve their individuality through fierce accentuation or infusions of distilled Viennese essences, but simply by prizing out and tying together strands both thematic and expressive—sometimes, as in op. 30/3’s Scherzo and finale, with an archness that reflects Beethoven’s own musical wit. In the Sonata, op. 30/3, they revel in their ability to shift manners suddenly, with a skill that highlights Beethoven’s chameleon-like moods, that shift mercurially from storms to blue skies and back to lightning bolts within a few measures’ span.
With all the diverse and satisfying performances of Beethoven’s sonatas, the works themselves display sufficiently varied facets to offer many successive generations novel opportunities to reflect their light. Perl and Schmid take their place among those who have found such a way in recent years—or at any time, for that matter. Strongly recommended.
Robert Maxham, FANFARE
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