Augustin Dumay / Maria João Pires

Beethoven: Complete Violin Sonatas

(CD - Deutsche Grammophon #471495)

Review by

Performance for performance, violinist Augustin Dumay and pianist Maria-João Pires' performances of Beethoven's violin sonatas may be just about the greatest set ever recorded. From the exquisite elegance of their Op. 12 set (listen to the elevated intimacy of the central Andante con molto espressione from No. 3), to the infernal energy of their Op. 23 (listen to the pianissimo moto perpetuo in the opening Presto), to the vernal delicacy of their Op. 24 (listen to the spring wind blow through the new leaves in their Adagio molto espressivo, to the myriad beauties of their Op. 30 set (listen to the tender duet in the Adagio molto espressivo in No. 1, the tragic drama of the Finale of No. 2 or the sublime grace of their Tempo di Minuetto of No. 3), to the supreme lyricism of their Op. 96 (listen to each and every artless and effortless note), Dumay and Pires have created deeply impressive and profoundly moving performances. Only the opening movement of their Op. 47 is a disappointment -- a performance not quite at the level of virtuosity that the piece demands -- but their central Andante and their closing Presto are so rapturously ecstatic that they nearly compensate for the slight weakness of the opening movement. As enshrined in Deutsche Grammophon's superbly natural sound, Dumay and Pires have created performances that stand with the Kreisler-Rupp, the Oistrakh-Oborin, Szeryng-Haebler, and the Kremer-Argerich as the very best ever made.

blue highlight denotes track pick