Arthur Grumiaux

Beethoven: Complete Violin Sonatas

(CD - Brilliant #93329)

Review by

Although Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux started another cycle of Beethoven's violin sonatas in the early '70s with Claudio Arrau, he never completed it, and thus this mid-'50s cycle with Clara Haskil remains his only complete recorded cycle. Some listeners have always regretted this, arguing that Arrau's beautiful tone and elegant technique were a much more fitting match for Grumiaux's flawless intonation and effortless virtuosity than Clara Haskil's merely pretty tone and serviceable technique. But most listeners have accepted what they cannot change and are simply grateful for what they have: a wonderfully poised, marvelously expressive, and profoundly musical set of Beethoven's violin sonatas performed by one of the great postwar violinists. Grumiaux's balance between high Classical style and early Romantic passion, between ardent lyricism and driving drama, between soul-filling kindness and side-splitting humor is ideally Beethovenian, and even Haskil's at-best-adequate accompaniment cannot diminish his achievement. Brilliant's reissued mid-'50s stereo sound is dry and distant but, in the final analysis, true.

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