Joseph Szigeti

Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms: Violin Sonatas

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Although violinist Joseph Szigeti may be most remembered and revered for his tireless enthusiasm for promoting twentieth century works for his instrument, he was equally at home performing the compositions of the Classical and Romantic masters. This Biddulph album presents three such gems from Szigeti's extensive discography: the final violin sonatas of Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. Each recorded in the 1950s, Szigeti is heard at the peak of his technical and musical powers. The Beethoven Op. 96 Sonata is especially notable for the serene simplicity with which Szigeti plays; his relaxed, unhurried approach to the sonata is an immediate calmative for listeners. His interaction with pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski is quite conversational and natural. The restored recording is so detailed that page turns can even be heard. The album continues with Schubert's D. 574 Sonata, this time performed with Myra Hess. While the piano's sound quality in this sonata is more muffled than in the previous, the simplicity and nuance of Szigeti's playing are still remarkable. The album ends with the Brahms D minor Sonata, again with Horszowski. Here, Szigeti's intonation slips with uncharacteristic frequency and his tone is sometimes forced in the higher registers, making this sonata the weakest of the three.

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