Arthur Grumiaux / Clara Haskil

Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas

(CD - Decca #4758460)

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In early 2007, both Decca and Brilliant released three disc sets of Beethoven's complete violin sonatas played by Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux and Romanian pianist Clara Haskil. Recorded in 1956 and 1957 and originally released on LP by Philips, these performances have stood the test of time. Grumiaux's effortless virtuosity, elegant phrasing, and impeccable intonation coupled with Haskil's soul and sympathetic if not always note-perfect accompaniment made for one of the most instantly appealing collections of these central repertoire works, and despite its age, anyone looking for a complete set should certainly consider this one.

Oddly enough, though, the sound seems to be quite different in both issues. Decca's is big and boomy with a healthy dollop of reverb, while Brilliant's sound is dry and distant with minimal, or at least minimized, reverb. This is particularly odd since Philip's original LP sound was slightly dry but deep with a reasonable amount of reverb. Thus, those interested in Grumiaux and Haskil's Beethoven sonatas are presented with two very different sonic alternatives in these reissues.

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