This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Recorded in Vienna, 9/1956 (2, 3, 8), 12/1956 (7, 10), 1/1975 (1, 4, 5), 9/1975 (6, 9).
It's a case of roundabouts and swings here, and of course of personal taste. Both these sets feature artists of the first rank and I have derived much pleasure from each in turn. As for the roundabouts and swings-well, for a start Grumiaux and Haskil are on three discs while
Perlman and Ashkenazy occupy four, although there is a mere 25 minutes difference between their total music. On the other hand, Perlman and his colleague were recorded in the mid 1970s while the Philips performances date from the 1950s and are in mono; I can't understand how the printed material comes to claim 1975
as the recording date for five sonatas since Clara Haskil died in 1960! Yet to be fair they really don't sound like it in this digital remastering, which employs the Philips NoNoise reduction system that is explained in the accompanying booklet. But there's a slight sense of compression on the sound, in tone though not in dynamic range.
Overall, Grumiaux and Haskil offer most enjoyable playing and I would I happy to possess their set. However, given a free choice I would not hesitate in preferring Perlman and Ashkenazy. Here, as has already been said by a colleague, "discernment is matched by spontaneity" and the whole series is remarkably fine, while their celebrated performance of the Kreutzer Sonata has a quite superb eloquence and verve. Inevitably, too, the stereo recording is more alive than that accorded to Grumiaux and Haskil, with unusually truthful violin sound capturing all the colour of Penman's playing-and that is saying something. Ashkenazy's vivid attack is to my mind also closer to the Beethoven idiom than Haskil's mellower approach. One quibble: errors in the number of tracks given on the back of the Decca booklet and jewel case (elsewhere information is right) suggest that all these sonatas have just three movements. Ideally perhaps a collector will want both of these fine sets, but if a CD choice of one is to be made, Decca have it.
-- C.H., Gramophone [1/1989]
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