Renaud Capuçon / Frank Braley

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for violin & piano

(CD - Erato / Virgin Classics #5099964200)

Review by

Among the many genres Beethoven used to build on his reputation upon his arrival in Vienna, the violin sonatas allowed him not only to demonstrate his own prowess on the keyboard, but also played to the increasing popularity of chamber works that might be attempted by sophisticated amateurs. Following Mozart's trend of liberating the violin from a mere secondary role, Beethoven continued to bring about the equality of both instruments in all of his duo sonatas. Performing these 10 sonatas is the splendid duo of violinist Renaud Capuçon and pianist Frank Braley. The recordings take place in la Chaux de Fonds concert hall in Switzerland, a venue that offers listeners an exceptionally wonderful, intimate sound quality even on a CD. Capuçon and Braley clearly share a unified, singular vision for these predominantly youthful sonatas. They shed new light and freshness on the well-known sonatas like the Op. 24 "Spring" and Op. 47 "Kreutzer" sonatas, as well as treating the less-often performed sonatas with the same level of intrigue and vivaciousness. Capuçon's playing is sweet and warm, even in the higher registers of his instrument. Braley's touch is especially nuanced, ranging from forceful to delicate; his limited use of the pedal produces an especially clear, clean articulation, particularly in the piano's lower range. Suitable as a first recording of these wonderful sonatas or as an addition to an extensive collection, this three-disc set is broadly appealing.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12/1
1 08:55
2 01:19
3 01:14
4 01:16
5 01:01
6 02:00
7 04:45
Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 12/2
8 06:29
9 05:12
10 04:45
Sonata No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 12/3
11 08:07
12 06:05
13 04:19
Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23
14 05:13
15 05:43
16 05:17

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 30/1
1 07:47
2 06:28
3 00:45
4 00:43
5 00:50
6 00:44
7 00:59
8 01:42
9 02:05
Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30/2
10 07:21
11 08:43
12 03:22
13 05:06
Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 96
14 10:40
15 05:48
16 02:05
17 08:38
blue highlight denotes track pick