Viktoria Mullova / Kristian Bezuidenhout

Beethoven: Violin Sonatas Nos. 3 & 9

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Unlike the sonatas for cello and piano, to which Beethoven turned during all three of his commonly recognized style periods, the sonatas for violin and piano were confined to the earlier portion of his career. Nevertheless, Beethoven continued to advance the equality of the two instruments that Mozart had begun, giving an increasingly independent role to both instruments and increasing the virtuosity of the part-writing. This Onyx album features the early Op. 12/3 Sonata, as well as the perennially respected Op. 47 "Kreutzer" Sonata. Russian-born pianist Viktoria Mullova is joined by fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout for a period instrument performance that proves to be a step above the rest. Bezuidenhout writes a brief introduction to the instruments in the liner notes; instead of just giving mere technical specifications for each instrument, it paints a vivid picture of each instrument's personality and individual quirks that truly gives listeners something to latch on to. Rather than shying away from their instruments' shortcomings, as is sometimes the case in recordings such as these, Mullova and Bezuidenhout celebrate them. Combined with their individual energy and passion, complete technical mastery, deep understanding of the score, and unified vision of its performance, this results in a finished product that is completely satisfying and engaging from start to finish. Neither Mullova nor Bezuidenhout are shy about their accents, dynamic emphasis, driven tempos, and forceful playing, leaving listeners excitedly breathless by the end of the album. We can only hope that they will continue with a complete survey of the remaining eight sonatas.

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