Beethoven: The Sonatas for Violin & Fortepiano Vol.2

Performing and recording the complete set of Beethoven’s sonatas for fortepiano and violin had been a dream of ours for years. They constitute a cornerstone of the repertoire, and we knew—from our years of experience with earlier music and our study of the historical sources—that historical instruments, and the historical playing techniques that go with them, would shed new light on these masterpieces. Performances of these pieces on historical instruments are rare. There are serious obstacles to performing them in concert: you need top-notch fortepianos, and an intimate but vibrant chamber-music performance space. And the pieces, difficult in any case, are even more so on period instruments; modern instruments are far more forgiving.
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"This disc is a live recording of the first half of Michelangeli's one and only Salzburg Festival appearance. There is a 1948 HMV recording of the Bach Busoni and a 1941 commercial recording of the Beethoven. The Beethoven is an interesting contrast to his 1941 effort. Slower and more thoughtful, he eases back on the music in the quieter passages and brings out the inner parts with his usual crystalline perfection. The attacks are fierce and he does not hold back on sforzandos in his typical snapped fashion (bars 127-8 in first movement being a case in point).I don't know any other recordings of the Beethoven by other pianists save for Gilels. Michelangeli is sharper rhythmically and more limpid. His colouring shines through and melodic lines are polished until they sparkle away like liquid jewels.The Bach/Busoni for those of you who know it is given Michelangeli's full treatment. For readers who don't it has at times an organ quality particularly in the bass. But nothing is stodgy or blurred. It gathers momentum with a great sweep and is a pianistic marvel.I particularly commend the booklet notes written by Peter Cosse, a Salzburg music critic. They are detailed and give a beautifully etched picture of the man and his art and include some quirky extracts from the local critics who reported on the recital.This disc may seem short measure but apparently the second half of the recital (Debussy Images, Chopin Berceuse and 2nd Sonata) was not allowed to be broadcast or recorded. Michelangeli did not disclose his reasons but he was not a man in the habit of explaining himself to disappointed audiences.....One way or another I have most of Michelangeli's recordings and saw him live many times between 1982 and 1991. It seems to be that his best performances were from about mid fifties to late sixties. His playing thereafter often took on a slightly studied feel bout it (EMI Schumann Carnaval in 1975 being a case in point). This recital dates from August 1965 and is vintage playing. It still has a carefree element which is occasionally absent from some of his 1970's DG studio recordings.- Mr. A. N. Matthews

"Phenomenal playing of the Bach/Busoni. Exciting, spine tingling whatever adjective you want. Cannot recommend the piano playing highly enough. Six stars!"-Peter Cooper

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