Peter Cropper / Martin Roscoe

Beethoven: The Complete Violin Sonatas, Vol. 1

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Violinist Peter Cropper is undoubtedly best known for his 40-year career as first violinist of the Lindsays string quartet. The Lindsays had a singular ability to deliver exceptionally energetic performances; this energy was likely responsible for their many fans as well as detractors. The abundance of energy sometimes came at the price of intonation and sound quality, something that individual listeners are likely to either really enjoy or really dislike. In this first volume of the complete Beethoven violin sonatas, Cropper very closely mirrors the performance practice he led in the Lindsays. His playing is indeed remarkably energetic, with absolutely nothing stuffy about even a single note that comes out of his instrument. But again, the energy comes at a price. Cropper's playing is also extremely vertical, with crunched forte chords being the rule rather than the exception. Intonation is also problematic; big shifts frequently fall flat and are left uncorrected. Pianist Martin Roscoe's playing is much tamer and universally appealing; his playing is just as energetic and forward-moving, but without the angularity. If you feel that the Lindsays breathed new life into the Beethoven string quartets, then you'll likely find this recording equally engaging. If, however, you believe that the price of energy is too high, you'll want to look elsewhere for a collection of the violin sonatas.

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