So true to its origin that you can hear the quiet hiss of the needle in the groove, this 2007 Urania release of violinist Adolf Busch and pianist Rudolf Serkin's classic monaural recordings of three Beethoven Violin Sonatas is apparently a direct transfer from LP to CD of the 1977 CBS release of the 1941, 1943, and 1951 Columbia originals. Aesthetically, of course, there is nothing wrong with this. The CBS release was cleanly remastered, and while Busch and Serkin sounded distant in the Columbia originals, they nevertheless sounded real and vital. And as anyone who knows them will tell you, their performances are easily among the greatest ever recorded. Busch was an intellectual with a reckless streak and his playing could be sharp and focused one minute and sweet and sensual the next, but it was always with a purpose and always to the point. Serkin, Busch's longtime accompanist and son-in-law, is supportive but assertive, providing a base for Busch to build on but also constantly prodding him to press a little harder or probe a little deeper. Their performances of Beethoven's D major Sonata, Op. 12/1; his G major Sonata, Op. 30/3; and particularly his A major "Kreutzer" Sonata , Op. 47, are polished, passionate, intimate, and often ineffably moving. If you already have the CBS or Columbia releases, you don't really need this Urania release unless you need a CD copy. But if you haven't already heard these performances and you enjoy these works, this disc demands to be heard.
Review by James Leonard
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in D major, Op. 12/1|
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 8 in G major, Op. 30/3|
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 9 in A major ("Kreutzer"), Op. 47|