Romain Descharmes / Pierre Fouchenneret

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Piano & Violin

(CD - Aparte #AP 129)

Review by

For this three-CD set on Aparté, violinist Pierre Fouchenneret and pianist Romain Descharmes perform Ludwig van Beethoven's ten sonatas for piano and violin, which date from his early and middle periods. In a sense, these are among the most Classical of Beethoven's works, because all but two retain the conventional three-movement format and lack a scherzo movement, and all but one were composed between 1798 and 1803, under the abiding influence of Franz Joseph Haydn. Perhaps the most significant constraint is shown in the designation "for piano and violin," a term that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used for his violin sonatas, treating the violin part almost as an obbligato line. After 1812, when Beethoven composed the Sonata No. 10, Op. 96, he abandoned this genre in favor of other forms that allowed for greater originality, virtuosity, and equality between the players, as is found in the late string quartets. Here, the sonatas are presented in a mixed order, which may be disorienting for someone tracing the development of Beethoven's style, but the sequence allows for complete works without breaks between the discs. The live performances at Le Trident in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin have an intimate feeling, despite the theater's rather airy acoustics, and the sound is focused, so the distinctive edge of the violin line and the metallic percussiveness of the piano are crisply recorded.

blue highlight denotes track pick